Spiritual maturity doesn’t happen by itself. Like growing a garden, there must be preparation, maintenance, pruning and readjustment in order to enjoy the harvest. Listed below are five areas that have helped me toward developing spiritual maturity.
1. The Supremacy of Christ. One of greatest lessons I’ve learned in my walk with God is the principle that Christ is the center of all things. The Christian life begins, continues and is eternally sustained by the person of Christ. If Christ is the center of all of Scripture, and the redeemer of our salvation, then shouldn’t the focus of our spiritual life be Christ instead of a life “attempting to do things for God?”
Therefore, the beginning of any step toward maturity should be to focus on Christ. Our very reason for existence is to manifest the life of Christ that is in us. That begins by learning to rest in Him. Instead of a flurry of Christian activity, the first order of business is allowing Christ to live His life through us. The Scripture says, “I am crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God…” (Galatians 2:20)
It’s not about what you can do for God that is important, but it is who you manifest in what you do. It is allowing Christ to live His life through you and “do it all for you.”
2. Be intentional about you maturity. Like anything in life, you will accomplish what you intentionally make an effort to achieve. If your goal is to be the best golfer then you will determine a path that will help you become an accomplished golfer. You will have a set time to practice your sport, and you will have the best clubs you can afford, and you will make sure you work on your weak areas.
In a similar manner, it is important to be intentional about your fellowship with God. By having a predetermined time to read and meditate on the Word and pray, you will take the first step in becoming intentional about your maturity.
3. Set Spiritual goals. You know the old saying, “You hit what you aim for.” Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t become mature by attending church. Being around other believers is important to your growth but solid maturity is realized when you set personal spiritual goals. Initially your goals will be simple ones like reading a chapter in the Bible daily and spending 10 minutes in prayer. Then your goals should increase to reading through the Scripture, or developing a concentrated study on a single book of the Bible. My point? Your growth will be relative to the development of your spiritual goals. After many years of counseling believers, I have come to the conclusion that most believers do not have spiritual goals. For those whose spiritual maturity is limited to going to church, then going to church and listening to good preaching has made many spiritually lazy. Every time I set a new spiritual goal God teaches me something that leads to greater dependence upon Him.
4. Develop sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. The older I get and the longer I walk with God, the more I am aware of the importance of being continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Often our words and attitudes reveal the condition of our heart, and the lack of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s voice. We must be sensitive to those things that quench and grieve the Holy Spirit. Why is that important? If the goal of the Christian life is to manifest the life of Christ in our attitude, our speech and in all that we do, then the Holy Spirit is the one that brings out the Christ likeness in us. Our smile, kindness, compassion and love are all empowered by the Holy Spirit. “And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit;” (Ephesians 5:18 ASV)
5. Stay close to passionate people. John Maxwell says, “People keep a poker close to the fire so that they can stir the coals and keep the fire hot.” In a similar manner we must stay close to those who are as passionate about spiritual things as we are. It is always good to hang with fellow saints who will challenge your thinking and will hold your feet to the fire if necessary. The Scripture says, “Iron sharpens iron. So one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 NAS)