If you have been reading All4God posts over the past couple of years you will have probably come across the phrase “spiritual maturity” at some point. One of the big passions I have is to see people seek to grow in faith and mature in their relationship with God, moving beyond a baby milk Christianity onto the solid food feast of maturity God has for us (Hebrews 5). But what actually is spiritual maturity? What is this thing we are striving for? I thought it would be helpful to run through some things that spiritual maturity is NOT, as it can be easy to aim for the wrong things and miss what is most important.
- Spiritual maturity is not having pub quiz Bible chronology knowledge. While it may be handy to know that Joshua was the son of Nun or that Daniel was taken captive in the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign, what is more important is that you know Jesus’ love and you live it out. Heart knowledge is more important than head knowledge.
- Spiritual maturity is not knowing the five points of Calvinism (which incidentally are: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and Preservation of the saints – some of you may disagree with Calvinism, I believe God has predestined you to debate that with me in the comments…). Nor is it knowing the ins and outs of Arminianism or any other theology system.
- Spiritual maturity is not all about holding the ‘correct’ doctrinal position. Sound doctrine is important, and there are certain beliefs, like the fact that our salvation is through Christ alone, that we need to hold tight to. But there are many other finer points that we can get caught up in debating and arguing over that really ultimately it doesn’t matter if we are 100% right about them. Obviously it would be better if we were right, but they aren’t worth the division they so often cause.
- It’s not about what books you’ve read – just because someone hasn’t read as many profound books as you doesn’t mean they can’t be every bit as spiritually mature. Some learn from books, some learn from experiences, all grow in different ways.
- It’s not about what sermon podcasts you listen to – it is all very well listening to a different sermon every day, but if they don’t change how you live it is just a waste.
- It’s not about which pastors you follow on twitter – you don’t become spiritually mature just by reading a tweet, you have to let the content sink in and impact how you live. And if the pastor is just tweeting about what they had for breakfast that certainly isn’t going to help you become more spiritually mature…
- It’s not about being on the right side of the debate – it is a terrible thing to win the debate but lose the friend.
So why bother seeking spiritual maturity? Because God has a plan for your life, a plan to prosper and not harm you (Jeremiah 29:11), a plan to bring His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We need to seek His will and seek Him so we can play our part in that. Don’t get distracted from pursuing true spiritual maturity. I think Psalm 24:4 gives the best summary of what spiritual maturity is all about – seeking God with clean hands and a pure heart. Make that your life goal.