Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
— (Hebrews 5:13-14 NIV)
What Is Spiritual Maturity?
Spiritual maturity is the process of growing in the things of God and establishing a relationship with God. Spiritual maturity is an ongoing process and doesn't happen all at once. It develops over time.
Spiritual maturity has nothing to do with physical age. Instead, it has everything to with focusing on the spirit realm beginning when one accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and become more Christlike in everything he does.
As we become more intimate with God, we grow spiritually. It is trusting God and being obedient to Him. A person reaches spiritual maturity as he depends on God and is committed to Him.
According to Hebrews 5:13-14, the process of spiritual maturity is similar to a baby who drinks milk and uses a pacifier. Then as he grows, he gets to the point when he can eat solid food. A believer is not expected to know all the things of God when he first gets saved. However, he is excited to grow as he focuses on the things of God and commits himself to them.
Spiritual maturity is not making excuses by saying, “God knows my heart.” Or “God is big enough to understand.” Spiritual maturity is not saying, “Everybody else is doing it.” As individuals, we have to give an account for every thought, word, and action.
Spiritual maturity is knowing what is right and doing what is right. Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” Spiritual maturity is being like Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet. She chose the better part. Spiritual maturity is turning the other cheek when people have hurt you.
A believer is not expected to know all the things of God when he first gets saved. However, he is excited to grow as he focuses on the things of God and commits himself to them.
Paul's Concept of Spiritual Maturity
Paul summed up spiritual maturity this way: "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:11)
Spiritual maturity is putting away the bottle, the pacifiers, the bibs and the blankets.
Good Examples of Spiritual Maturity
The Bible gives some good examples of people who grew in the things of God. When we first meet them in the Bible, they were not as spiritually mature as we read about them later in life.
When we first meet Joseph in Genesis 37, he was only17 years old. Surely, he was not ready to become second in command of Egypt at that time. He had to grow through his trials and hardships. He was put into a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery and ended up in Potiphar's jail in Egypt for something he didn't do. Joseph grew through those experience until he proved he was worthy to be elevated to a higher position.
We first see Nehemiah as a cupbearer with a sad countenance in front of the king. If we follow along with him, we see his spiritual maturity played out through his initiative, discernment, leadership skills, teamwork, accountability, and service.
Spiritual maturity is saying like David, “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.”Spiritual maturity is saying, “I messed up but forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.”
Jesus summed up spiritual maturity in one word: Love! "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)
Spiritual maturity is accepting spiritual things without understanding them. Spiritual maturity is realizing that spiritual things are different from nature things.
So, if you want to become spiritually mature, do what Jesus did according to Luke 2:52, "And Jesus increased in wisdom (knowledge and understanding) and stature (physically), and in favor with God (spiritually) and man (socially)."
Examples of Spiritual Immaturity
When you are not spiritually mature, you will do foolish things. Jonah was sent by God to go to Ninevah, but he did a foolish thing. He went in the opposite direction and ended up in the belly of a big fish.
You see, Jonah was not spiritually mature. After speaking the word of God to Ninevah, He sat under a bush and pouted. Spiritual maturity is more than quoting scriptures. The devil can quote scriptures. Spiritual maturity is more than reading your Bible. You can read your Bible every single day and still not be spiritually mature. For example, Job read his Bible every single day, but he lived by the law instead of the spirit. He suffered severely until he said, “Now I know...”
You can go to church every Sunday, sing in the choir, pay your tithe, and still be spiritually immature. For example, the rich young ruler kept the law, knew the Ten Commandments, went to the temple, yet he was not spiritually mature. He went to Jesus and when Jesus told him what to do to become one of His disciples, the rich young ruler lowered his head and walked away sad because he knew what to do, but he was not willing to do it.
Even Jesus’ disciples were taught for three and a half years. But many times they were spiritually immature. Jesus rebuked them on many occasions for not having faith.
Jesus' Display of Spiritual Maturity
The ultimate display of spiritual maturity came from Mary the mother of Jesus and from Jesus Himself. When the angel Gabrielle told Mary she was with child, she did not understand it, but she said, nevertheless, at thy word. Then Jesus said something similar in the Garden of Gethsemane when He talked to His Father about going to the cross. He said, “Nevertheless at thy will.”
Spiritual maturity can be yours if you really want it and work at it. The first step to spiritual maturity is to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Then let Him be the Lord of your life. God wants you to be spiritually mature. That’s why He went to the cross, but we might live a life worthy of what He went through for us. Jesus, who knew no sin died that we might have everlasting life. On the cross, He displayed spiritual maturity when He forgave those who beat Him, and mocked Him and crucified Him on that old rugged cross. He displayed spiritual maturity when He said not a mumbling word because He saw you and me on the other side of His death, buried and resurrection.
Don’t let His death have been in vain. Put away those childish things, and grow up in Jesus name!
In other words, spiritual maturity is not what you BELIEVE but how you BEHAVE!
Conclusion and Life Application
In other words, spiritual maturity is not what you BELIEVE but how you BEHAVE! However, your beliefs should result in your behavior.
Now that you know what spiritual maturity is and what spiritual maturity is not, give up drinking milk and eat solid food as evidence of your spiritual maturity.
- Read the Word of God on a daily basis. The Bible is God’s diary. It consists of what’s in His heart and on His mind.
- Pray without ceasing. Never stop communicating with God.
- Praise God by telling Him how majestic He is and how holy He is.
- Meditate. Reflect on and mull on the things of God. When you receive a Rhema word from God, flesh it out in your mind until it hits your heart before we move on to other things. Don’t keep piling on information without meditating on it.
- Evangelize. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself." I say you cannot share Jesus Christ with others without falling in love with Him all over again.