Maturity is not measured in years, rather maturity is a measure of emotional and spiritual health. Maturity is being self-aware and comfortable with who God has made you to be.
Immature people always try to be something they see in someone else.
Depending on our life experiences and trauma, we all have some aspects of our emotions that are not mature and that have not developed the way God intended them to develop and mature.
For the Christian, maturity is Christ likeness. To grow more like Jesus and to die to our flesh daily. Maturity is finding satisfaction in the approval of our heavenly Father alone.
In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul encourages the church to be unified, to use their gifts and to mature as a body. We see in verse 12 that maturity comes from doing the work of the ministry.
We make a mistake when we think that we cannot do the work until we are spiritually mature. The truth is that we grow and mature as we exercise our gifts in the body.
In verses 13-16, we see four traits of a spiritually mature person.
1: Mature people are Christlike.
In verse 13, we read that Jesus is our example of spiritual maturity. The fullness of Christ is the expression of completion of our Christian walk, exhibiting the character traits we find in Ephesians 4:2-3.
Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Jesus, as our old way of thinking and acting is replaced by Christ’s through the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We will only attain Christlikeness when Jesus comes again, but we need to be moving forward. If you are not more like Jesus today than you were a year ago, something is wrong with your walk with the Lord. We grow more like Jesus as we walk with Jesus.
2: Maturity involves doctrinal stability.
Spiritual maturity involves the intellect. We must not think that Christian growth is purely an emotional and spiritual exercise and that we need to check our reasoning skills at the door. Verse 13 encourages us towards knowledge of the Son of God. And in verse 14 he uses the example of children as the opposite end of the spectrum. Children can be gullible and easily swayed by false teaching.
We all begin our relationship with Jesus as children, with childlike faith. But we must not stay as children, we need to grow and be able to feed ourselves as we read and meditate on the Word of God.
The world is full of false teachers and false doctrines, we need to think, pray, and ask God for discernment. We have a very real enemy who will use every tool available to sidetrack us on our spiritual journey of becoming more like Jesus.
Knowing the Word is the best way to avoid being distracted by false doctrines and unbiblical teaching. We can only know God’s word by spending time reading and meditating on it.
Sadly, the statistics show that most churchgoers do not read their Bibles, and this is why the church is prey for false teachers (see Hebrews 5:11-14).
3: Maturity involves Truth Joined with Love
Verse 15 has the often-misquoted text, “speaking the truth in love…” This verse has often been taken out of context and used as a “baseball bat of brotherly love”. One of those Christianese phrases that we like to use before or after we have said something harsh.
This is more than simply speaking; the Greek word is complex here and John Stott describes it as “truthing”. Speaking the truth in love is truthing in love. This includes maintaining, living, and doing the truth. We live out the truth as an example to those around us. It is the equivalent of the phrase; “actions speak louder than words.”
Mature people do not avoid tough conversations, but they speak from of a firm foundation of love and not for selfish gain.
“Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love, love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth” John Stott
4: Maturity involves Contribution
In verse 16, Paul goes back to the analogy of the body when speaking about the church.
The church is like a body with many different parts and connections, it is not a social club or a convenience. The church is the body of Christ, where each part has an important part to play.
As the church, we are dependent on Christ as the head of the church and we are dependent on each other as working members of the same body. As we grow in Christ individually, we exercise our gifts and the body becomes healthy.
Sadly, many churches in the world have a static view of the church. The members of the body are satisfied if the congregation stays about the same size, with the same familiar faces. They are happy if the programs can all be maintained, and the budget is enough to keep all the familiar programs running. In these churches there is no vision for growth through evangelism or missional engagement. This church has already died.
This is a tragedy and not God’s design for the church. God’s design for the church is to be the salt and the light in our communities, and to be the cultural influence for the glory of God.
As we focus on being a healthy church, the natural by-product is growth. But what is church growth? Is it numeric growth?
I believe church growth is first and foremost spiritual maturity, sacrificial living, healthy evangelistic relationships, and people feeding on the Word of God for themselves. Thereafter the numeric growth will follow.
If you have been a Christian for any length of time, who are you feeding?
If you have been in the church for five, ten, or fifty years and you are not feeding others the Word of God, something is wrong, you have not matured.
“Are you growing?”