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5 Markers of Spiritual Maturity

5 Markers of Spiritual Maturity

You would think the desire of every believer in Jesus Christ is to strive for spiritual maturity. I can’t say for certain this is true of every believer, but at least I can hope. If you are going to strive for maturity – and I trust this is your desire – doesn’t it make sense to know what it looks like? After all, as the old saying goes, “if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.” For this reason, I want to give you a target.

The target is simply five questions that will help measure how you are doing in terms of your spiritual maturity. These questions are in no manner meant to be judgmental, but hopefully eye-opening as we seek to continue to grow as believers.

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What Does Mature Mean?

For the context of this discussion, we will turn to the book of Philippians, specifically focusing on Phil. 3:15 – 4:3. The questions I will ask will all be taken from this portion of Scripture. Let’s start by looking at the first verse.

“All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you” (Philippians 3:15).

The word for mature here means complete in all its parts, full grown, of full age, or fully developed. The reference here is connected to the development of your Christian character. Looking at this verse closer leads to the first question.

1. Do You Have the Right Perspective in Life?

Spiritual maturity is about having the right perspective in life, and the way you think is evidence of your maturity in Christ. Your outlook regarding the situations in life you face speak volumes as to whether you are approaching them from a place of maturity or immaturity.

However, it is not just about looking at life situations with the right mindset. You must also view yourself from the right perspective. This requires you to not just think about what you do, but who you are in Christ. Too often in life we have the tendency to define ourselves by what we do. It is very common to ask someone, especially when you first meet them, “What do you do for a living?” While this is a conversation starter, sometimes we can’t get past defining ourselves in this fashion.

If you are going to have a mature perspective, you need to define yourself not simply by what you do, because that can change. You need to define yourself by who you are in Christ, because that doesn’t change. This doesn’t mean you have achieved all you are in Christ, but it does mean you are striving toward it. The more you begin to see yourself and define yourself the way God sees you, the more maturity you are developing.

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2. Are You Holding on to the Progress You Have Already Made?

This question comes from Philippians 3:16, “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” The NLT words it this way “But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.”

Another measure of your maturity focuses on not just how you have developed in the past, but how you will continue to develop in the future. Spiritual maturity is about learning and continuing to learn. Growing and continuing to grow. In other words, there is more maturity ahead of you. If the ultimate goal is to be conformed into the image of Christ, we all have a long way to go. That’s why in this life we are always striving but never arriving. Maturity recognizes the progress you have made, holds onto it, and at the same time strives to continue forward.

3. Who Are You Choosing to Follow?

Paul gives an interesting instruction in verse 17.

“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do” (Philippians 3:17).

I am not sure how often we think about this, but the people you choose to follow point to your level of spiritual maturity. Who you choose to look up to as a role model or example to follow speaks volumes to how you are developing in your walk with Christ. Paul encouraged the Philippians to follow his example and the example of others that live like he does.

This forces me to ask you the question, who are the people you are following? The measure of the role model is not what they say, but how they live. In short, their character matters. To take it a step further, a person’s title or position does not automatically deem them worthy of being an example or a role model. However, their character does.

Be careful who you choose to follow and make sure you consider those who truly display godly character. If you are spiritually mature, you will stop making excuses for people’s lack of character and start holding them accountable for it. This is real evidence of spiritual maturity.

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4. How Do You Spend Your Time and Where Do You Devote Your Focus?

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

You might be wondering what this has to do with spiritual maturity. Quite possibly this could have everything to do with it. Because as a believer you are a citizen of heaven, this means you have an obligation to the place where your citizenship lies.

When my wife became a citizen of the United States, one of the things she was required to do was swear support and allegiance to the constitution of the United States. As citizens of heaven, we are called to do the same thing, but our constitution is the word of God. This understanding must shape not only what you focus on and do, but also how you do it.

When an Olympic athlete competes, they represent their country of citizenship. They usually count this as an honor and for this reason they train hard because they want to give their absolute best effort and do their country proud. We are citizens of heaven, which means when we go out and live, we represent heaven, and we need to ensure we are giving our best effort so that we can make heaven proud. For this to happen you must make sure that you are not getting entangled in earthly pursuits that distract you from what God has called you to do.

In the time God has given you on this earth he has a purpose and plan for your life. This means you must be selective in what you put your energy behind and make sure your goals, desires, and whatever you choose to pursue align with heaven’s goals and desires for your life.

The more you mature, the more you can make sure this becomes your primary focus, allowing you to block out all the other things that can distract you. As you measure your maturity, consider closely how you spend your time and what you focus on. These two things will be big clues as to whether you are operating in spiritual maturity or not.

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5. Do You Contend for the Unity of the Body of Christ?

When Paul was writing his letter to the church in Philippi, there was one situation he had to address. There seemed to be a disagreement between two of the women in the church. These women were prominent in the church, which is why their disagreement was causing a problem. Here is how Paul addressed it.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:1-3).

These women were considered dear friends, companions, women who contended with Paul for the cause of the gospel. He called them co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. Paul pleaded with them for unity. Currently the church is filled with many disputes and divisions of various kinds, but where do you stand? Are you contending for the unity of the body of Christ? 

This was not only Paul’s plea, this was also Jesusprayer (John 17:21), so this is not something to be brushed aside or taken lightly.   A person who is fighting and contending for the unity of the body of Christ is operating in spiritual maturity. However, if a person is always divisive, destructive, or disagreeable, then they are not operating with God’s heart in mind and are clearly spiritually immature. All I can say is don’t be that person.

Final Thought

As I bring this to a close, how did you do with those questions? Remember this is not about judgment but about trying to help us all become more mature in our walk with Jesus Christ. My prayer is that the cry of our hearts would always be in this direction. When it is, we are aligning with God’s desire and hopefully becoming the mature believers he wants us to be.

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Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com