Moving Towards Spiritual Maturity – 4 Easy Steps
We talked about the four markers for spiritual maturity and growth in a previous post. The next logical question we then have to ask is how then do we move towards spiritual maturity? Here we will discuss on some of the pointers that are pertinent to help us attain these markers.
1. Understand that God has already supplied the resources for spiritual maturity
The first thing that we need to understand is that God has already supplied us for our spiritual growth. He took upon Himself to make sure that we grow to conform to the image of His Son. As Peter would say in his second epistle:
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. – 2 Peter 1:3
Without belaboring on other similar verses that suggest the same thing, if we can bear in mind that this is indeed the case, then it means that we can grow spiritually if we open up our eyes to discern the resources He has given us. Most of the time, the resources are already staring at us.
2. Understand that we need to make effort for our spiritual maturity as well
One of the things that people mistook is that there are short cuts to our spiritual growth and that spiritual maturity is automatic. But as suggested above, we need to make the effort to look at the resources God has given to us. Spiritual maturity is simply not an automatic process. As Paul would tell Timothy, Timothy was to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7-8). As much as the people around us want to help us, we need to take the step to practise what they are teaching us to do. This means we need to work hard work to grow in our godliness.
In case we think this is an obvious point, I once talked to a young believer (young in terms of maturity) who has been in church for 3 years plus. This person’s growth throughout the years has been pretty nominal at best, though he did want to grow. But he refused to read his Scripture (to the point that he did not know how to operate his Bible App on his smartphone). As a result, anyone can just come in and influence him with wrong doctrines. I can tell him anything and yet not be proven wrong because he has no means of proving me wrong. He is constantly seeking shortcuts, such as going to prayer rooms to seek “word of knowledge” from the intercessors, thinking that this will hasten the spiritual growth. He refused to acknowledge that he needed to make effort to grow spiritually. As a result, he pretty much remained near where he began a few years back.
3. Primary tools of spiritual maturity: Personal
There are two primary tools of spiritual growth that I know, which most Christians will not neglect in their personal life. The first is the regular reading of Scripture in devotion and study. This is pretty much basic for all of us and there is no running away from this. Many passages can be quoted to substantiate this point and almost all of us know some of them by heart.
And it does include the Old Testament, lest we mistake it to be a prelude to the Scripture. Just because the New Testament is ‘new’, it does not imply that the Old Testament is outdated. Think about it, Paul told Timothy that all Scripture is Spirit-inspired (2 Timothy 3:16). Which Scripture was he referring to? Of course it was the Old Testament, since he did not know that he was writing an epistle that was to become part of Scripture as well.
Another primary tool is prayer. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians to pray unceasingly (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Jesus automatically assumed that believers will pray when He taught the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. If we do not learn to commune with God on a regular basis through prayer, then we will find it difficult to hear His voice if we even want to hear His voice in the first place.
4. Primary tools of spiritual growth: Corporate
The primary corporate tool of spiritual growth has to be the church, where God has placed all the resources for us to mature:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. – Eph 4:11-13
Hence, being involved in the church is the first step towards spiritual growth. Does your church provide basic doctrine class? Do you get to be mentored by spiritually more matured believers in your church? Do you get to join in a small group on a regular basis? Join them! Participate in them!
But this is not the only benefit of church in spiritual growth. The church, should by right, provide an environment for the regular meeting of believers for mutual encouragement and learning. You are not just going to church to receive but also to encourage one another so that we can continue to keep one another accountable in our spiritual lives.
5. What about other resources?
I have heard many people talking to me about the church not being able to meet their needs in terms of spiritual inputs. What can we do about it? Assuming these concerns are genuine and do not come from consumeristic believers who just want to feel good in church and do nothing else, then I must encourage this one thing to bolster your spiritual growth towards maturity – to seek resources outside of your church. There are many avenues to do so like:
- Courses with theological institutes such as Acts College.
- Reading other books from other traditions
- Christian conferences and seminars organised by other parachurches and Christian organisations
- Serve with other parachurches and Christian organisation
- Seek mentorship from outside of your church
- Go for mission trips
I am by no means suggesting that you should walk out of your church but that your church does not need to limit your growth. Remember that our pastors and leaders are only human beings trying to serve God to the best that they know how and they may not be able to deal with all your concerns. Going to these avenues allows a few advantages including:
- Broadening your perspectives and horizons – seeing that God is still working outside of your church.
- Learn new things that you may never get to learn in church
- Meet new people whom you may never get to know in church
- Serve in areas that you may never get to serve in church
A point on broadening perspectives
And I would want to make a note on broadening perspectives. Interacting with Christians from different traditions and denominations has taught me that the Christian life is richer than what we think. It enriches our spiritual lives but more importantly, it provides us the ‘tools’ to approach God in different manners and hence different ways to feed your souls. We get to hear new perspectives (not necessarily correct one) which help to stretch our mind and appreciate what our church is teaching.
So if we want to grow in our faith and mature in Christ, then we should bear in mind that there is no lack of avenues out there. Continue to serve in your own church but be bold to explore beyond your own traditions. You may find treasures that will help you.
Comment if you have other points to bring up.