Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Process of Spiritual Maturity

It is essential that we strive towards spiritual maturity. Our faith cannot, and should not, remain static. There needs to be growth in our faith and our understanding of who God is and what His will is. When we do not grow and we are content with remaining we are we miss out on the life God wants us to live.

The Apostle Peter was very aware of the importance of spiritual growth. In 2 Peter 3:17-18 writes:
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (NASB).

If we are not engaged in spiritual growth we face the danger of losing our faith, being led astray, and living in error. With the constant changes that we face in life the faith that was able to get us through in the past will not necessarily be the faith that will get us through the future.

The writer of Hebrews shares a similar sentiment when he wrote:
Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God (Hebrews 6:1, NASB).

Growth is to be expected in our walk with God. We cannot remain the same and remain with Jesus. Either we are moving with Him or we are allowing ourselves to be left behind.

If spiritual growth is so important how do we make it a part of our lives? The entire Bible is filled with instruction and example of how we can make this growth a part of our lives. Today I want to share with you a little bit of what the Apostle Paul told the Colossians about spiritual growth.

{6}Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, {7} having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. {8} See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary teachings of the world, rather than according to Christ (Colossians 2:6-8; NASB).

Let’s take a moment and examine what Paul wrote about spiritual growth:

First we need to be consistent - Vs. 6
Faith is the key. We came to salvation because we trust that Jesus would take away our sins. We grow spiritual because we trust Jesus to lead us, to take us, to the life God created us to live. With out this faith in Jesus, a living and active faith, then we cannot hope to grow. If we are not willing to be consistent in our trust, the fact that we trust Jesus to take away our sins but not to lead us, will mean that we will be stunted in our maturity and our relationship with God.

This consistency is seen in our obedience. Are we willing to follow Jesus wherever that might take us? Will we risk our lives, careers, and reputations for the sake of the Gospel? By being obedient we demonstrate that we trust Jesus, and thus God, will do the right thing.

Second we need to be concrete - Vs. 7
Remember Jesus told the parable of the wise man and the foolish man? The point of the story was the fact that we need to firm foundation to build our lives on. The wise man is able to survive the storms because his house is built on the rock, and the foolish man is destroyed because his house is built on the sand that is washed way with the water.

Being concrete is all about holding on to truth. Jesus’ teachings are a firm foundation because they are truth. We receive truth through instruction, reading, relationships, and experiences. When we are constantly seeking the truth and then applying that truth to our lives we can be certain our foundation is secure.

Third we need to be cautious - Vs. 8
It is so easy to be led astray by something that sounds good. Proverbs 14:12 reads; There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (NASB). What seems to be right and what sounds good are not the best indicators of what is the truth. We can get very lost following what seems to be right to us.

This is about influence. Who will we allow to influence us? What type of media will we use? Is their message in agreement with the message of Jesus? The best way we can safe guard ourselves from being led astray is to know and hold on to the teachings of Jesus. Only when we are familiar with the truth will we be able to identify the lie.

Spiritual growth is essential for our relationship with God. We need to remain consistent in our faith, we need to be concrete in our belief, and we need cautious about our influences. Through this we can set ourselves on the path of spiritual maturity and continue our quest to become the people God created us to be.

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