Read I Peter 5!
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (II Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)
Maturity is realizing that our Lord can and will bring goodness and glory to any situation, as long as He is glorified. That is even through our weakness and failures, through our letdowns and discouragement's, Christ is there loving us and encouraging us. Through blessings and good times we do not become complacent with our blessings, but keep our eyes on Him. Paul knew this first hand and lived it out in his life and ministry, as must we. Whatever our circumstance we need to see that it impales in significance to the eternity we have to come. This world and life is a dress rehearsal, and a mere shadow to what is to come. So let us keep the focus to what is ahead and what we will enjoy for all time that we may not see unless we press on to the goal, and then at the end we will see.
One of the clearest evidences of being a mature Christian is an increased awareness and knowledge for the need to be in Christ, and not to be to ourselves. When we have an increased need that goes beyond our "self-confidence", so that Christ is the focus, and not ourselves. When we are in on our Lord and the Holy Spirit; then our self-confidence becomes rooted and dependent in Christ working through us. So we are not "self driven" but "Christ driven". Thus resulting in our will to be in total surrender to God's will as the driving force for our existence.
To many people feel they are to busy to contemplate their existence, just ask any one and you will be surprised on the answers. Yet God created us for a purpose, but most give little to no credence to it, even Christians. We can not venture into maturity unless we realize the need and the purpose of who we are in Christ.
As mature Christians we will recognize our need for Christ that will bring us beyond our failures and blessings, so we can grow increasingly effective for our Lord and grow in sanctification. That we are focused on the goal of holiness to be the person God created. He created us to be images of Himself, and as images we are to reflect His character, that goes beyond ourselves to the purpose He has. It is not about our needs but His need, its not our purpose but His purpose.
As we grow in Christ we will become aware of our futility and inadequacy as human beings, that we are products of our Fallen Nature that only Christ can regain and redeem. And this frailty will become a strong building with the foundation of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit who gives us extreme provision and realization to be our best for God's glory. We become complete human beings who walk away from our fallen nature into a renewed nature in Christ. As we grow in the progress of our walk with Christ we become more able to stay on the path of that He has for us. So that to open temptations and venture into new paths away from His presence will no longer consume or desires. Instead we are to become convicted to spiritual fulfillment that Christ has for us. Thus, when we walk on the path of God and we are confronted with the enormous assortment of doors, all leading to temptations and desires we will know what to do. All these distractions and sins leading away from His best for us, thus they will not be a temptation, but rather repulsive and ugly as they truly are.
With the power of the Holy Sprit and the conviction of faith in Christ, when we are modeling His image with love; we are maturing. Not what we think His image is, but as reveled in scripture! And the desires and aspirations that once hindered us will be of no bother; we will be able to walk away from them like a racehorse. A racehorse has its blinders on the side of its eyes, so it is always pointing straight ahead, so they're not distracted from leaving the course. We to must keep our eyes focused ahead so we're not distracted away from our Lord. For when we are overcome by our desires and distracted from our purpose, then the diseases of character flaws will infect us like cancer, and consume the body of Christ that end up serving only our whims and the devils purpose. When we stop and open those doors of temptations, even the small doggie doors we will be consumed, and our growth in Christ will stop and the infection of diseases will replace their growth.
There are to many Christians who flat out and deliberately refuse to surrender themselves the Lordship of Christ. Christianity is merely fire insurance from Hell, or some means of social influence or personal desires that do not grow beyond the sinners prayer: Such as the parable of the sower. Our Christian growth in maturity is not self-realization, but rather Christ realization. As we grow we become totally aware of one great fact: there is one God and we are not it. That our confidence in who we are is because of the work Christ has done on our behalf. As we grow our utter dependence is upon our Lord and our confidence is in Him and not ourselves. Because people will always disappoint us, we will even disappoint ourselves, but Christ will not disappoint, but gives us the care, love, and His grace that we do not deserve, that we intern model to others who we think do not deserve it, because this is our mandate and call.
The Mature Christian is rooted and grounded in the spiritual disciplines of the faith, whose drive is there passionate love relationship to the Lordship of Christ. And what flows out of it is the desire to love God"s people, is to lead others with love into maturity, and lead were they have been before, and the people have not been. The leader exhibits the maturity of the Christian life, as the result of their growth and experience in the faith. An effective leader can not be new to the faith, even the Apostle Paul spent three years being discipled by Barnabas, and he received his call and was empowered directly from Christ Himself. I have seen to many immature Christians who go at it by who they are in society, and not who they are in Christ.
A few years ago while on staff at a church, we received a family who came to faith at a crusade, and the father was the founder of a major fast food franchise. So in less than a year he was my boss, and the president, ruling Elder of the congregation. Now he was a great guy, and very successful in business, but he did not know how to run a church. So he instinctually ran it like a business and his policies failed. He did not know how to lead in a church, which is different than in a corporation, even though a lot of the principles are transferable. After several years he did become a good leader, as he matured in the faith. But the church suffered during his learning curve needlessly.
There is no substitute to time spent in the face of our Lord, with a surrendered heart and a learning will. We must be willing to humble no matter who we are or our experience. I had to lean this lesson, a few years back; I went from being on staff at a large and influential church to a small church in a small town. I at first thought before accepting the call that I was to good for it, but God wanted me there to teach me to walk closer to Him, and not walk in the position that I held. So I did, and I experienced humbleness, nobody knew me as the conference speaker or author, or big position in a big church, but just a youth pastor in a small church. But this is where Christ wanted me, and I learned a lot there, preparing me for the road He had for me. And I'm glad I went there because I learned things in a broader context, that I could not have in a large mega church.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (II Timothy 2:15-16; 22-24 NIV)
This passage is a testimony to the importance of holiness, and to keep ourselves growing in our spiritual lives so that our emotional selves are impacted and grow too. Spiritual maturity will lead into emotional maturity most of the time, unless there is some physiological, or psychological problem, or deep stress that has never been resolved. It is imperative for the Christian to be in control of their emotional health. If the Christian is given to fits of rage or is just overly emotional, they can not set the example that Christ has in our character. We are not to be Vulcan's exhibiting pure logic and no emotions, absolutely not. God created us as emotional beings, but as with anything we must have control of the excess and the potential for rampage.
© 1990 R. J. Krejcir, Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.discipleshiptools.org/