Tests of Maturity

W. Terry Varner
January 25, 2015

Physically there are many ways to measure growth. Some families, at least years ago, used the door-facing to mark the height and date of their children’s growth. Do you remember? As parents we measured growth by pant legs and outgrown dresses. Do you remember?

Mentally, growth can be measured by our attitudes—what we say and what we think of others. We can measure growth by discipline—how we use our time and accept responsibilities. We can measure growth by deportment—our feelings toward those in authority and toward those under us. We can measure growth by our interests—what we have learned to the present and our desire (or lack) to be better informed.

Spiritual growth can also be tested in our life. We suggest using the following five ways.

What We Have Outgrown. “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away foolish things” (1 Cor. 13:11). The child of God, who like a butterfly goes from flower to flower, is immature when he flirts with one set of values to another or from one wind of doctrine to another. When we are tossed to and fro by false doctrine we have not grown up. Christian growth produces stability because of the firm foundation (cf. 2 Tim. 2:12).

The Power to Resist Temptation. “By faith Moses, when he had come of age, refused to be called Pharaoh’s daughter” (Heb. 11:24). Until Moses fled Egypt, he was known as Pharaoh’s daughter and enjoyed all this station of life offered. He refused “the treasures of Egypt” (Heb. 11:26). Some things are of more value than earthly treasures (Matt. 6:19-20; 16:26). He refused earthly power and honor (Heb. 11:24). He refused the “pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:25). A mark of Christian maturity is the ability, with God’s help, to remain faithful to Christ in face of temptation.

Fruitbearing. “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit” (Luke 6:43). What kind of fruit matures the Christian? The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). The Christian graces given by Peter—faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (2 Peter 1:5-7). Peter’s conclusion is important: “For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being either barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8).

A Deeper and Less Selfish Love. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is bom of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:7-9). As the Christian’s love grows toward God the Father, Christ, the Bible, and His church he will find himself maturing as God desires.

Beauty of Character. “Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Ps. 29:1-2). Added to these words are Paul’s tremendous and so very important statement: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). This test is not so much one that Christians apply to themselves as it is one that is made of them by others. The real effectiveness depends on self being forgotten.