Why do we need to strive to build our relationship? Is there anything wrong with being happy where you are in your walk with God? Why should we desire spiritual maturity?
This week, we’re going to talk about the growth and maturation that God loves to see in the lives of His people. This is a delicate matter, because many people can hear messages like these, and end up in the bondage of legalism. They see it as a to-do list, or hear, “If you really love God, then you’ll do these things, and that’s that.” That’s death for a Christian’s life with God. We’re not talking about a to-do list.
First and foremost, it’s important to know God, and to accept the free gift of forgiveness of sin from His Son, Jesus Christ. After that, God desires to have a relationship with us where we can learn about Him and His plans for our lives.
The Bible is quite clear about those things, but it also clearly instructs us to do good works in His name, to bear fruit, and to always desire more of God’s love and relationship than what we have. These are some types of evidence of spiritual maturity.
Now, if you’re like me, you might hear the words, “spiritual maturity”, and think, “Yeah, boy, I want that. What do I do?” Well, that’s kind of the tricky part. You can’t make yourself become spiritually mature. The only thing that you can do is to seek God’s help.
Many people struggle with the concept of works or spiritual fruit. They get hung up on the idea that these are things that the Bible says we should have/do as Christians, and then they go out and try to make these things happen for themselves. It reminds me of a kid trying to act older than he or she is. It’s not bad that they desire to be mature, but it’s comical to see a young boy trying to shave, or a little girl putting on too much make-up when she probably does’t need to wear make-up at all. I’m convinced that’s what God sees when we try to manufacture works or spiritual fruit on our own.
Spiritual maturity will come to us naturally when we are nourished by God’s love and teaching. We have to be open to God’s work in our hearts before we ever become spiritually mature. Spiritual maturity is something that we receive. It’s not something that we achieve for ourselves.
1 Peter continues, “2 You must crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your salvation. Cry out for this nourishment as a baby cries for milk, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness” (NLT). That’s how you receive your nourishment – that’s us, praying daily for God to draw us closer to Him. We have to cry out to Him, desperate for His spiritual food.
Here’s something a bit disturbing, but it’s important to realize how necessary this is in our lives. Imagine a baby who is abandoned by its parents. It gets hungry and starts crying, but eventually, it gets too weak to cry. Its diaper is dirty, and it’s getting cold. Soon, the baby’s systems start to shut down, and the baby dies, but no one is there to even bury it. I’m sorry. I know that’s an horrific thought, but it’s God’s truth for us! We need Him like a baby needs its mother’s care.
Why should we desire spiritual maturity?
God has given us this incredible opportunity to know more about Him, and to grow. Matthew 25 contains two parables about what God thinks of people who do nothing with the opportunity that we have in knowing Christ. You can read the second parable at the end of this message. God hates spiritual lethargy. He wants to see His children producing good fruit – not worthless grapes as in John 3:30.
When we cease to grow in our relationship with God and become complacent, we’re opening ourselves up for spiritual atrophy. When we hear the scripture, Isaiah 40:31, we frequently think of ourselves as bold Christians that will not give way to persecution. Well, how about diligent Christians that won’t get bored with the race?! Satan’s best hope, when a person becomes a Christian, is that the person won’t follow through with the relationship that he or she has begun. That’s like a soldier wondering off to go site-seeing when he’s at war in a foreign land! When we don’t allow God to work through us by keeping ourselves spiritually tuned, God’s kingdom suffers. God’s perfect plan is thwarted in our lives, and the work that we would otherwise do in His Name, remains undone.
Spiritual maturity and a right relationship with God also helps us to resist temptation. Remember the starving baby analogy? Well, the systems shutting down would be our defenses giving way to Satan’s lies and temptation. Ask yourself if you’ve ever found yourself living knowingly in a life of sin when you were earnestly seeking God and truly receiving from Him. It can’t be done. Sure, a Christian can sin like any other person; even a spiritually mature person, but you’re an easy target if you’re not seeking God daily.
If you’re realizing right now that you’re really a spiritual infant right now, don’t worry. Don’t try harder to be a good Christian! You’re not alone, and we don’t have to measure ourselves against anyone else, especially where spiritual maturity is concerned. If you feel judged, DON’T. That’s not what this message is about. It’s about crying out to God, and telling Him that you want a closer walk with you. Ask Him for more of Himself.