This is the first installment in a new series called, “Christians Talk Funny.” In it I hope to help people understand some of the things that Christians say that may be completely normal to other Christians, but to folks who didn’t grow up in the church, might sound really strange. Today I want to talk about “spiritual maturity”.
What is maturity?
Maturity is one of those things that comes in a variety of “types”. There is physical maturity. This is starts in those awkward middle school years and continues into early adulthood. A great many strange changes happen during this time but that’s another discussion. Emotional maturity comes as we learn to better control our emotions or to react to situations with a little less drama… some of us never get to that point.
Maturity is basically the process of becoming mature. Merriam-Webster defines mature a few ways
“Having completed natural growth and development.”
“Having attained a final or desired state"
“Having achieved a low, but stable growth"
“Of or relating to a condition of full development"
There are a couple of others, but they mainly deal with getting older and I’d rather not talk about that. The grey hair in my beard is enough of a reminder of that. Still, I think that most of us understand what maturity means.
What is spirit?
The Bible teaches that we, humans, are both physical and spiritual beings. It teaches that even the world around us is both physical and spiritual. Nearly every religion agrees with this. Many non-religious people and even atheists would say that they are “spiritual”. Our spirit is the non-physical parts of who we are. Some would define this as including our feelings, thoughts, etc. Basically, anything that we would say is part of us, but is not physical is our spirit.
So, what is spiritual maturity?
Physical maturity refers to the physical development of our bodies. This process starts at conception and continues through puberty and into early adulthood. Somewhere in our early adulthood, our body completes the process of physical maturity. It enters a period of physical stability then, sadly begins a process of physical degradation.
While we will all reach a point of physical maturity, I think we can agree that our emotional maturity is an ever growing and changing thing. Sure, we may be quite mature, emotionally, at 25-30 years old. But, we will be quite different by the time we are 40 or 50. We will likely change even more in the decades that follow. Physical maturity is something we arrive at. Emotional maturity is a result of the experiences we have and our responses to them. For this reason, it is ever changing and growing.
Spiritual maturity is like that. Much like physical maturation starts at conception, spiritual maturation starts at the moment of *salvation. Unlike physical maturity, spiritual maturity never reaches a point where it has become complete. Rather it is more like emotional maturity in that way because it continues to grow throughout your life.
Ok, but what is spiritual maturity?
Ok, that still doesn’t really answer the question of what spiritual maturity is. We could very simply say that spiritual maturity is growing more like Jesus. This would be of an oversimplification, but is a good working definition. The Bible is filled with characteristics of what it means to be godly, to be like Jesus. 1 Corinthians 13 is often called the love chapter. This is a great list of some of what it means to be more like Jesus. Galatians 5:22-23 is another great list of what it means to be spiritually mature.
So, Spiritual maturity is about growing becoming more like Jesus. It’s about doing what we can to move towards that goal.
* If you don’t know what I mean by salvation, stay tuned that will be in an upcoming post.