By Jennifer Maggio, Crosswalk.com
Are You Growing in Spiritual Maturity?
By: Jennifer Maggio
Beaming with a grin from ear to ear, my aunt recently shared with me that she graduated into the Adult IV Sunday School class at her church. Her church only offers 4 Adult Sunday School classes in her age group, which means this is the last class she will ever be in before she spends eternity with her Savior. For her, this was a rite of passage in many ways. She had earned her position in her new class. She said that she had been in the same Sunday school class for more than 20 years and felt it was time to “graduate” on. Admittedly, it was a bit hard to hear this news, as I am especially close to this aunt, but equally, it was endearing. Nearing her eighties, I love that she is mature enough to recognize when one door is closing and a new chapter beginning.
That same aunt has been a pillar in my faith walk for many years, as a confidante, friend, and teacher. She is, in my opinion, one of the most spiritually mature women I’ve ever met. She is humble and quick to forgive and feasts on the word of God, and I could go on and on. Years ago, if you would’ve asked me about maturity in the Lord, I would’ve immediately equated it to age. Theoretically, the older one is, the more spiritually mature they would be, particularly for those who have been active in a local church for many years.
However, in my work in women’s ministry over the last decade, I have found that theory to not be as correct as I would’ve hoped. Sure, there are many who are mature in age that are equally mature in their walk with Christ, but there are also those who have been walking with the Lord for many years who are still as immature, in the spiritual sense, as they were the day they asked the Lord into their hearts.
Here are some questions I encourage you to explore as you gauge your own walk with the Lord and how you may be able to continue to grow in that journey each day.
Who are you investing in? As believers, we should be looking for those who are new to the faith to walk with. We should be teaching the young and pouring into those who haven’t journeyed, where we have already been. We are to be pouring into someone who could really use some encouragement, some clarity, or some wise counsel. Yes, pouring into your children is a huge part of your ministry that the Lord has given you. But I want to also encourage you to begin to look at those around you who may be in your church or on your job, who could really use that little extra time. It could save a life. Hebrews 5:12 says, “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things of God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.
Have you laid down childish things? Childish things come in a variety of packages. But let me give you a few examples. Consider your junior high or middle school years. We did some of the silliest things, didn’t we? When we heard a secret, what did we often do? Gossiped. When someone spoke unkind things about us, what did we do? Confronted. (I can feel my head swinging and my fingers snapping from side to side, with an I’m-gonna-tell-her-about-herself attitude!). When we were hurt or offended, what did we do? Obsessed. Spiritually mature women, forgive. We clarify. We stay in community. We let the past go and don’t feel the need to air out conflicts on social media or in the context of gossip guised as a “prayer request.” We learn the power of staying silent, rather than responding to attacks. We see the beauty in our sisters in Christ and issue them grace, instead of jumping to conclusions or comparing. Consider 1 Corinthians 13:11. “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”
Do you constantly need to be right? It seems that there are some who love to take on a cause or engage in a good fight. Even when your intentions are good, the result can be divisive and unfruitful. Now, for those who have known me for about 4 minutes, you will likely engage in a conversation with me about my passion for single moms & the church, so I love a good cause. I love the God-given passions who bestows on each of us to make a difference in this world for His glory. But more specifically, what I’m writing about is the need that so many have to constantly be right. Are you always engaged in a war of words with someone? Are you absorbed with the need to “correct” those who differ in opinion from you? Do you find yourself constantly bickering with others or worked up about an issue? Causes are great. They have a purpose. But relationships are more important than our need to be right.
Can you see your growth? Much of life is simply about living. It isn’t about the highs or the lows. It isn’t about the unbelievable accomplishments or the exciting events. It’s about the day-to-day. It’s about doing each day well, growing in the Lord, speaking kindly to those around us, impacting our children, investing in worthy causes, and smelling the roses – just living. Granted, it is sometimes hard to “see” spiritual growth during those just living seasons. But seeing spiritual growth is more about looking back at where you’ve been and seeing how far you have come. Have there been times in your life when fear was a real struggle for you, but now you can see that it isn’t a stronghold? Are there past times when you lost your temper far too quickly and now find it much easier to hold your tongue? That’s growth! A deeper question to consider may be, are you going around the same mountain over and over? Are you still talking about the mean girl in high school that you still can’t stand, even though you’re both 40 now? Are you still replaying in your mind what she did, or he said?
Everyone’s walk is different. Make no mistake. Our circumstances, our childhood, and life’s experiences can certainly affect our growth and how quickly or slowly that happens. Maybe a death or divorce or trauma has left us paralyzed for a season. That happens. It’s normal. Nothing is wrong with slow growth! Because it’s growth nonetheless. However, let’s do our very best, each day, to grow just a little closer to the Lord and to each other.