Look inside a home and find the child that is obedient, willing to help out around the house and respectful to the parent and there you will find a beautiful grace which we would call maturity. Go to the classroom and observe, note the children that are attentive, eager to learn and respectful of their teacher and you will find maturity. Visit the workplace, see those that are busy with their daily routines, find those that are diligent in their tasks, cheerful, considerate of others around them, interested in doing a good job and you will once again find the gentle grace of maturity. In God's house you will find the same grace. There we refer to it as "spiritual maturity".
Spiritual maturity is what pastors love to see. That is why they labor. They love to take people from unchuched, to the casual attendee, to the regular attendee, to the baptized member, to the devoted member, to the devoted ministering member. When we minister to others, even if it is something so simple as giving them a cup of cool water or taking a cup of coffee to our spouse, we are ministering in a very real way. This requires maturity. Jesus gave us four ways that we may measure spiritual maturity:1) by talents; 2) by fruit bearing; 3) by faithfulness; 4) and by discipleship.
The parable of the "talents" is found in Matthew 25:14-30. Using talents simply means using whatever gift God has given you. A natural gift like athletic ability, musical ability, or even brains can be wasted. The only way maturity may be enjoyed is by using what we have been given by God's grace. Those that "entered into the joy of the Lord" were those that used their talents.
Only the mature tree bears fruit. As the gardener loves to see his plants grow and produce fruit, so the Lord and His people. Fruit is spoken of in scripture as good works. Psalms 1, speaks of the tree bearing fruit "in his season". One does not become mature immediately. It takes time; teaching; learning. Let us not expect too much too soon from our tender plants. Yet, let us hope the mature plants in God's house will set the example. As every tree varies in fruit bearing, both in size and quantity, so it is with God's people: some an "hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty"-Mat. 13:23.
Faithfulness speaks of continuing, commitment, and acting on the truths that have been revealed. Faithfulness and knowledge are not interchangeable terms. Vance Havner said something like this, "A church can be straight as a gun barrel doctrinally, yet just as empty spiritually." Maturity is more than knowing. Surely, the church should be more than knowing. It must be a spiritual house ministering to the needs of others, both within and without the house of God. As James said, "shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."
A disciple is a learner. It means that we are not perfect. We will always be learners if we are true disciples trying to mature more. What better place to learn than in God's house. We never reach an age of unaccountability in God's house. There is no such thing as a full grown disciple. Even Paul had not attained. It was those disciples that were most mature, most faithful that were blessed to go with Jesus and see His miracles. Peter, James and John beheld Him on the mount as He was transfigured before the Father. Jesus revealed more to the mature.
John F. Kennedy once said in one of his speeches, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather ask what you can do for your country." I like that attitude. It is relevant concerning maturity. Just replace the word country with "church", "members" or "Lord" and you will see what I mean by "spiritual maturity."
Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, at Donaldson. Services begin at 10:30 each Sunday morning. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor