In our physical life we basically mature through five phases or stages: infancy, being a toddler, a child, a teenager, and then adulthood. These stages normally occur automatically and the maturing process just flows as we learn and grow. It is at once interesting that the Bible uses similar words to describe the fact that we were also made to grow and mature in our spiritual life in Christ. Jesus states in John 10:10 that, “I am come that you might have life, abundant life.” In spiritual maturity, however, there is a difference. Abundant life in Christ is only obtained as we grow, mature, and learn to relate to the authority of God. In this study, we will explore the comparison of maturing in our physical life, as a parallel to developing in our spiritual life.
As Christians, we need to understand that God wants us to grow and develop in our faith in Him. Consider below a listing of what could be called five levels of spiritual growth. The timing can be a bit different with different individuals, but it is definitely necessary that we do mature and progress in our Christian faith.
1. Infancy: Everyone starts out in the womb. There may be a small difference in length of pregnancy, but eventually life begins as an infant. There isn’t much expected from an infant but to assimilate, eliminate, sleep, cry, and hopefully smile. At this point in life we are totally dependent on our parents. It is basically the same with a new believer. This level in the spiritual life is called being “born again.” (John 3:3) At this point (an infant in Christ) we need to be gently fed, assured, and to be assisted with the removal of doubts, fear and frustration. (2 Timothy 3:15) We watch and we learn from the mature Christians in our life. God’s people need to always strive to reach new believers and also provide a safe haven for them.
2. Toddlers: It would be very unnatural to remain an infant all your life. So before you know it, we are usually learning to walk and to talk. It is at this stage that we must now be introduced to some do’s and do not’s. Toddlers lack discernment and we must work with them constantly as they are easily led astray. If we aren’t there for them they can get injured or get lost. The Bible says we cannot stay children (toddlers) who are tossed back and forth, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. (Eph. 4:14) It is at this age of our spiritual life we need to learn our basic Christian vocabulary. We need to understand things like: Jesus is Lord, He was born of a virgin, He never sinned, He died on the cross for us, He rose on the third day, there is power in His blood, freedom from sin, and power in the Holy Spirit. One of our biggest and most important lessons is learning to obey God in everything we do.
3. Childhood: It seems that this time in life carries with it a lot of discipline. We are starting to feel our own way and develop patterns that we will carry on with for the rest of our lives. The wise parent knows that if we don’t correct our children things can get out of hand. Hebrews 12:5 says, “You have forgotten the exhortation which speaks as unto children, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him, for who the Lord loves He chastens.” All corrections that come our way are ultimately for our good. If we don’t learn to obey those in leadership who we can see, how will we ever learn to obey God who we cannot necessarily see, but must serve by faith?
4. Teenagers: At this time in life we really begin to develop independence. We probably now have more energy than at any other time in our life. There is a problem that can creep in now however. We often start to think we know more than others. The truth is, however, we still need careful loving discipline. 1 John 2:11-12 says, “I write unto you little children (teenagers), because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. I write to you fathers, because you have known Him from the beginning. I write unto you young men, because you have overcome the wicked one.” Life in Christ at this point needs to be more than just discipline. We need accomplishments and victories to happen to develop us at this time too.
5. Adulthood: To be honest, this entire study really leads to this point. You are now the person in authority, but you are definitely still under God’s authority. What does it look like to reach this point of maturity in the Christian faith? 1 Corinthians 4:14-15 says, “I don’t write these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, you don’t have many fathers.” Adults in the Christian faith are to be good examples of faithfulness to God. They should also be leading the way in being spiritual parents of new believers in Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the hope of the world. Mature Christians should be examples of righteous living and winning the lost. Without these adults, we could be only one generation away from the extinction of the Christian faith.
NOW … the clincher! Once again, spiritual maturity doesn’t just Flow automatically! Each and every one of us only progress from and infant in Christ to an adult in Christ as we learn to submit our will to God.
So … how about it? Are we willing to take an honest look within our self and come to a realization of where we are spiritually. Are we an infant, a toddler, a child, a teenager, or an adult? Once you realize where you are in your spiritual life, then you can see what steps you need to take to move forward.
LESSONS – TO GETTING THE MOST OUT OF LIFE
The secret to success in life is putting God first in everything you do: Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
- Attend Church faithfully. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
- Be a faithful supporter of your church. (Mal. 3:8-11)
- Avoid sin at every point along the way. (James 1:11-15)
- Be an example to your family, friends, and new believers. (1 Tim. 4:12)
- We grow by eating – Read your Bible faithfully every day. (Psalm 119:130, Matt. 4:4)
- We grow by breathing – Learn the secret of fervent prayer. (Ephes. 1:15-18)
- We grow by exercising – Serve God in some place of ministry. (Ephes. 2:10, Prov. 11:30)
- We grow by learning – Enter into some personal life studies. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
CLOSING THOUGHTS: With God, the sky is the limit: “Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on hearth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matt. 28:18) Obedience and service to God is a guarantee to always get the most out of life.