I can remember that days when my sons Micah and Nathan were just babies. I can remember holding them and waking up in the middle of the night to feed them. I also remember taking them to the doctor for regular checkups and the doctor could tell that they were healthy because they were gaining weight and growing taller, well sort of taller. Many us judge spiritual growth the same way we judge the growth of a baby are you growing spiritually tall and packing on spiritual pounds, but spiritual growth may not happen the way you expect.
When my children were born they could do nothing for themselves, they could not talk, walk, protect, feed nor clean themselves. As my children grew older they became more independent, they needed my assistance less. Learning to eat without my help was a sign of my son’s maturity. Spiritual growth is the total opposite, we are born in sin and rebelled against God and the things of God, thinking we could do it all on our own, we didn’t know we needed God.
Spiritual maturity comes when we realized that we are totally deprived without God. Spiritual maturity is found in our dependence on God. Children show their maturity by depending on their parent less; Christians show maturity by depending on God more.
Too often churches have focused on outward signs of Christian maturity. Churches give certificates for completing the 12-week discipleship class as if that’s a sign that you’re now mature. Too often we measure Christian maturity by someone’s ability to memorize more scripture or pray longer prayers than others, but that may mean you have a good memory or you’re talkative. Christian maturity is not a 12-step process but a daily journey with God.
The writer of Hebrews puts it like this:
For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
Before giving signs of Spiritual growth, here are five signs that you lack Christian maturity:
1. Pride in you Bible knowledge
If you take pride in knowing more biblical facts than others, you’re spiritually immature.
In 1 Corinthians 8:1 Paul says, “We all possess knowledge. But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.”
2. Judgment without Grace
Some people feel a sense of pride when they are able to judge others’ lives as unworthy and leave little to no room for God’s grace. If you are a Christian and you take pride in judging others for their fault not only are you lacking Christian maturity, you’re also a church jerk.
3. Grace only
While there are some church jerks there are some Christians who give everyone and everything a pass thinking that this gives more room for God’s grace. Some people, and even some churches, can take the issue of grace too far Romans 6:1 addresses that.
4. Us – vs- Them
If you regularly use the words, “people in the world” as if they are the enemy, this section is for you. In Luke 10:25-37 Jesus is asked the question, “who is my neighbor” and the orthodox Jewish answer would have been “every Jew” but Jesus flips the script. Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan to show that we are to love all of God’s people, there’s no us –vs- them. If there were an us-vs-them we would’ve never been allow into the family of God.
5. Advertising Maturity
If you’d wear a shirt that says, “I’m a mature Christian” you should “take several seats”. Telling people you’re mature is like telling people you’re wise…it’s kind of proof you’re not. With maturity comes humility.
Now that we’ve addressed some of the negative issues, here are five signs that you’re growing as a Christian:
1. You’re Learning More About God
Spiritual Growth is more about relationship that remembering facts. When you’re learning more about who God is and how God moves because of the time you’re spending with Him, you’re starting to grow.
2. Learning to Feed Yourself.
Far too many people wait until Sunday morning to read or at least hear scripture. When you begin to open the Bible regularly to feed yourself, you’re growing.
3. You want to Obey the Word of God
When you are tired if simply knowing that you should do better and begin to make a change, you’re growing.
4. You Actively Share your Faith
Believe it or not very few people are willing to tell others about Jesus. Church people will gossip about other church people, but wont invite a neighbor to church. When you are more interested in sharing your faith than other peoples business, you’re growing.
5. You’re Maturing as a Person
One of the best ways to measure spiritual growth is by looking at the fruit in your life. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul lays out the fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. When you find yourself displaying these gifts more, you’re growing.