Spiritual Maturity Is a Journey
“‘… I know your deeds: you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.’” (Revelation 3:1 NIV)
We cannot stand still in the Christian life, for if we do, we will soon start going backward and losing ground. The best way to avoid this peril is for us to be constantly moving ahead towards spiritual maturity (Hebrews 6:1). God wants us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). If we have healthy habits, physical maturity is automatic. Social maturity is learned gradually, but spiritual maturity demands discipline, devotion, sacrifice, and service. Consider the possibilities.
We can remain spiritual babies. Weaning is usually a crisis experience for children because they think they have been rejected by a mother who no longer loves them. What they don’t realize is that weaning is proof that their mother does love them and wants to lead them to the freedom of growing up. Children find dependence on their mother to be a safe and comfortable situation and they don’t want to lose it, but losing it is essential to finding the freedom and opportunities of adulthood. This demands humility, submission, and obedience on the part of the child; otherwise, the mother will find herself with a pampered, selfish, disobedient, and demanding child. So it is in the spiritual life: the Lord lovingly weans us away from the temporary childish things that fascinate us (1 Corinthians 13:11) and moves us from milk to solid food (Hebrews 5:12-14).
We can pretend to be mature. This means “keeping up appearances” and concerning ourselves with adult matters about which we know nothing. We carry a large study Bible to church, but we haven’t opened it all week. We go from conference to conference and take notes that we file away in a drawer and never apply to our life. We accept service opportunities that are beyond us, but we make no lasting contribution to the work at all. Like the church at Sardis, we have a name that we are alive, but we are really dead (Revelation 3:1-6). G. Campbell Morgan called this “reputation without reality” and Jesus called it hypocrisy. But masquerades eventually end and the masks come off, and then we discover that we’ve been childish but not childlike and our so-called humility reeks with pride. Children who pretend to be adults are grotesque, not cute, and nobody takes them seriously.
We can pay the price and start maturing. Spiritual maturity is not a destination, it’s a journey; and the journey doesn’t end until we see Jesus—then a new journey begins. Mature people know themselves, accept themselves, improve themselves, and give themselves to the Lord to serve others. They know what they can do and where they “fit in,” and they don’t campaign for authority and visibility. They just trust God to help them do their work well to the glory of Jesus. More ministries are harmed by pride than by any other sin. Pride robs us, but humility makes us receptive and rewards us with spiritual growth we may not always detect ourselves…
-Warren Wiersbe (excerpted from Old Testament Words for Today)
Read Revelation 3:1-6.
We thank God for the life and work of Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) — pastor, teacher, author, Bible commentator, and friend.