Steps to Spiritual Maturity:
How We Grow up in Christ
What does it take to grow up and become spiritually mature? Why do some Christians not grow as they should? God’s word presents steps we can take toward growth and spiritual maturity by Bible study, patience, and diligent practice of good works.
People understand the concept of growth in the physical development of humans, and we know why it is important.
Babies are immature physically and mentally, but we expect them to develop. If they don’t, there is a problem.
My best buddy in high school did not grow and might have been nearly a midget. But in his senior year, doctors gave him shots to make him grow.
Spiritual growth is a similar concept but is far more important.
Growth is development or improvement toward a goal called “maturity” (or, in the Bible, “perfection”). When one is “born again” as a child of God, he is spiritually immature. As time passes, he should develop the qualities or abilities which the Bible says characterize the mature. A congregation matures as individual members mature.
Many Scriptures describe the need to grow and mature spiritually:
Ephesians 4:14,15 – Be no longer children, but grow up in Christ.
2 Peter 3:18 – but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 – The Thessalonians grew exceedingly in faith.
Philippians 1:9 – Paul prayed for their love to abound more and more.
Many problems result when members fail to grow: some go back to the world, others cause strife because of ignorance or become stumblingblocks because of irregular attendance, worldliness, or indifference.
The purpose of this lesson is to study the steps each Christian should take to grow spiritually.
Just as a baby needs to do certain things to grow physically, so Christians need certain kinds of activities to grow spiritually. When members don’t grow, it is because they lack one or more of these.
A. We Will Never Grow Unless We Want to Grow
In the physical realm, children WANT to grow.
“I want to grow up to be just like Mommy/Daddy/Michael Jordan…” “I can’t wait till I’m 16 so I can drive.”
Parents and kids become so excited when kids learn something new – the first step, first word, draw picture, etc. Everyone wants them to develop new abilities.
Parents sometimes use this to encourage children. When Tim was small, he wanted to drink milk because Bill Buckner (Cubs’ first baseman) advertised it.
Likewise, in spiritual matters, Christians must WANT to grow.
1 Peter 2:2 – Desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.
Some seem to like being spiritual babies. They don’t want to grow. It’s easy to be a baby – no responsibility. Others feed you, clothe you, change your diaper. In the church, you don’t have to teach, rebuke sin, or do work. It’s a free ride!
But being a baby is not the goal of life. We are born babies so we can grow up and be productive and useful. Likewise, we are born again, so we can become mature Christians, actively serving the Lord.
One of the conditions for becoming a child of God is REPENTANCE. One must determine to turn from sin and GO TO WORK in God’s vineyard. Then one must bring forth the FRUITS of repentance. This will lead us to grow and improve in God’s work. Otherwise, we have not accomplished our purpose for becoming children of God.
1 Peter 2:21 – Jesus set an example for us, and we should follow in His steps. We should ask ourselves, “Don’t I want to grow up to be spiritually strong like Jesus?”
B. We Must Maintain This Desire to Grow.
Some members who once wanted to grow, may lose that desire.
They may start off on fire for the Lord, but lose their zeal. They develop a spirit of indifference or negligence.
Others develop a level of maturity and stagnate. They are satisfied, thinking no more growth is needed.
The Scriptures teach that growth is always needed.
Philippians 3:12-14 – Even Paul, as mature as he was, did not consider himself to have achieved perfection (maturity) such that he could cease striving to improve. He forgot past achievements (and failures) and pressed on to greater accomplishments.
Matthew 26:31-35 – Peter thought he had reached a level where he would never deny Jesus. But that very night he denied Him three times.
1 Corinthians 10:12 – Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. Christians never reach the point we are so mature that we cannot fall.
One of the main reasons Christians do not grow is that they do not see the NEED for growing. They have no desire to work and serve to the full extent of their ability. When people develop a burning hunger and thirst to work for the Lord, then they will develop the other steps they need to grow.
Do you have that burning desire to accomplish more for the Lord? Have you set specific goals of work you want to accomplish for God, improvements to make, new levels to reach?