While God is not pleased with my sin and may discipline me in order to turn me from destructive paths and practices, His love for me does not diminish in any degree. He gave himself for my sins in their entirety, so that I might have His love in its entirety… Accepting this reality of God’s unchanging regard is necessary for us to make progress in the Christian life.
Christian maturity requires that we ask whether we are more motivated by gratitude for God’s mercy or by a futile attempt to earn it.
A man may be theologically knowing and spiritually ignorant.
The true test of a man’s spirituality is not his ability to speak, as we are apt to think, but rather his ability to bridle his tongue.
It is a mistake to assess spirituality simply on the basis of a person’s emotional display. What you want to be careful of is looking around at people in the church service and seeing people really into it – on their knees, people singing with glazed-over eyes, people expressing a lot of emotion, people weeping – and drawing the conclusion that because people are responding emotionally that they have a deeper connection with God or a more mature faith than the person who is not reacting emotionally at all. This is a profound error… Emotional response is not in any sense a Scriptural measure of spiritual maturity.
Do you know what the measure of spiritual maturity is in the Scriptures? It is not the display of spiritual emotion, or even the display of spiritual gifts, but the manifestation of spiritual fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.
Look for the ones who are poor in spirit; who mourn their sin; who aren’t entitled, always insisting on their own way, but are meek; who are sick to death of sin and all its nonsense and so hunger and thirst for righteousness like it is water. When you find people like that, make sure they know who Jesus is. Make sure Jesus is the one who fills their impoverished spirit, who has forgiven their sins, who receives their life and worship, and whose righteousness they depend upon and pursue. When you find such people, tell them to join!
What are the Standards for Membership? by Jonathan Leeman taken from Church Membership by Jonathan Leeman, copyright (2012), Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, p. 88.
The ultimate test of our spirituality is the measure of our amazement at the grace of God.
Your view of God is really the benchmark of your spiritual maturity. Understanding the nature of God is critical to spiritual maturity because in the end you rest in the reality of your God. Superficial knowledge of God, a shallow knowledge of God, a limited knowledge of God contributes to limited understanding and limited faith and limited trust.
This pursuit by the power of the sanctifying Spirit produces a decreasing frequency of sin and increasing love for holiness, which makes less sin feel like more. The truly mature and godly have the most sensitive awareness of their sins, and are the humblest before God because of it.
It is very rare for the spirituality of a group of Christians to exceed that of its leaders (John Benton).
We have to know that one of the great marks of spiritual maturity is being able to take admonition and rebuke! This matter of being able to admit faults and seek to correct them is a mark of maturity (Max Forsythe).
The supreme test for them really is whether they have found the hour in church enjoyable, whether the music being good, the singing hearty, the decorations no offense to the eye, the curtains the right shade, the building beautiful, they come away “feeling” better. The sense that truth, saving truth, the truth that liberates, is at once infinitely valuable and infinitely difficult to come by is almost completely absent (Herbert Farmer).
When I speak of a man “growing in grace,” I mean simply this – that his sense of sin is becoming deeper, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, his love more extensive, his spiritual-mindedness more marked. He feels more of the power of godliness in his own heart. He manifests more of it in his life. He is going on from strength to strength, from faith to faith, and from grace to grace.
You are not mature if you have a high esteem of yourself. He who boasts in himself is but a babe in Christ, if indeed he be in Christ at all. Young Christians may think much of themselves. Growing Christians think themselves nothing. Mature Christians know that they are less than nothing. The more holy we are, the more we mourn our infirmities, and the humbler is our estimate of ourselves.
The Christian life is very much like climbing a hill of ice. You cannot slide up. You have to cut every step with an ice axe. Only with incessant labor in cutting and chipping can you make any progress. If you want to know how to backslide, leave off going forward. Cease going upward and you will go downward of necessity. You can never stand still.
Alas! Much has been done of late to promote the production of dwarfish Christians. Poor, sickly believers turn the church into an hospital, rather than an army. Oh, to have a church built up with the deep godliness of people who know the Lord in their very hearts, and will seek to follow the Lamb wherever he goes!
Biblical literacy is not to be confused with Christian maturity. Homiletic accuracy is not the same as godliness. Theological dexterity is very different from practical holiness. Successful leadership is not the same as a heart for Christ. Growth in influence must not be confused with growth in grace.
The person who bears and suffers evils with meekness and silence, is the sum of a Christian man.
In my own pastoral and personal Christian experience, I can say that I’ve never known a man or woman who came to spiritual maturity except through discipline. Godliness comes through discipline.
When God prunes us, the result will be greater growth and sweeter fruit… Pruning usually takes place when God uses situations, people, and circumstances to help mature us in our Christian disposition, attitude, and temperament… The way we respond when we are pruned reveals our true level of spiritual maturity.