One of my mentors was an 18-year-old high school dropout.
I was 23-years-old when I met him and I was impressed by how much he stimulated my mind. Homeboy was dope and so different from the people in my immediate circle.
We spent a lot of time together, and he was always encouraging me to read self-improvement books and listen to motivational audios in my spare time.
But I resisted. To me, that was extra "work," and I honestly just wanted the quick notes on how to build my business.
As I continued to surround myself with him and others that thought just like him, I realized that there was a common habit going on—they all spent more time on personal development than they did on their businesses.
"Very interesting," I thought. "Spending time working on myself will help me to grow my business?"
The whole personal development world was very new to me. I didn't know that there were people who actually spent hours working on their mindset and internal barriers.
I mean, the thought just never crossed my mind.
So, I started working on myself too...aggressively. I spent practically ALL my free time listening to inspirational audios, reading books, going to conferences, and doing literally any and everything that could help me break through my internal obstacles.
As a result, I became very self-aware and I started to realize that my mentor was no longer able to speak into my life the way he did previously.
It was like putting on a pair of mental glasses.
My mentor helped me get to one point, but because of the extent of my growth, I now needed someone more developed than he was to get me to the next point.
Have you ever had a friend, family member, or even co-worker constantly ask you for things, but when you need them to do something for you, they're never available?
Happens all the time, right?
Many Christians are spiritually malnourished because they aren't immersing themselves in the things that will help them to grow closer to God. They pray and ask Him for many things, but aren't willing to give Him their time.
In my early twenties, I had my priorities mixed up. I would quote scriptures, but I didn't believe in God the way I thought I did. I believed in myself.
I spent the majority of my time with self-help, but when it came to God-help, well, I put Him on the back-burner. I was spiritually malnourished.
The way I realized that I wasn't growing much in my relationship with God is the same way I realized I needed personal development—I started surrounding myself with spiritually maturing believers.
And something was very different about them.
Signs of Spiritual Maturity
There are many signs of spiritual maturity, but I'll only cover three:
1. Immersing yourself in God
Spiritually maturing Christians are seeking all that God has for them. They're spending time in the Word, going to Bible study, prayer meetings, serving in ministry, and attending services.
Now, we all know that there are people in the church that do those things and don't have a relationship with God. However, doing those things does show where your heart is because spiritually maturing Christians are taking advantage of every opportunity to increase in the love of God.
They aren't just sprinkling themselves with a scripture here and there, they're fully dunking themselves in the Word.
"Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."
- 1 Timothy 4:15-16
2. Increasing in love
An increasing love for fellow believers, your enemies, and others is a sign of spiritual maturity. Love is an act of will and a commandment from God. There's no way that you can love God with your whole heart and not be obedient to His word.
When you truly love someone, you're willing to do anything you can to please them. Well, if you truly love Christ, you'll obey his commands because that's what pleases Him.
"Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them."
Growing spiritually is most definitely a lifelong journey, but your love for God should be increasing daily as you get to know Him more and more.
3. A discerning spirit
Let me start by saying that I'm under construction just like everyone else and I have many areas of weakness. In Christ, we are one body and He sees and welcomes us all the same way.
However, not everyone that seems (or claims) to be a Christian is one.
I had a very interesting discussion with a friend last week about how I was able to discern that He wasn't very spiritually mature. The conversation went to places I never expected it to go, and I admit that I might have come off a bit judgmental.
I tried my best to be careful with my choice of words, but I failed, and I unintentionally offended him.
"I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return."
—Philippians 1:9-10 (NLT)
A spiritually maturing Christian can easily discern those who are completely submitted to God from those who aren't by the degree to which people are "satisfying" the cravings of their sinful nature. A discerning spirit abounding (increasing) in love can choose what’s best.
We should use our spirit of discernment to make wise decisions and point others to what the Word of God says, not to make people feel like their relationship with God isn't real.
I accidentally made my friend feel like that, and it wasn't right. I mess up sometimes too.
We all have areas in our lives that we are falling short of the glory of God, but a born-again Christian will not use that as an excuse to not obey His Word. When you unintentionally mess up, bring it to God, and don't turn back.
"Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever."
—1 John 2:15-17
I'm not sure what else to say in this message, so I'll leave you with three questions to reflect on today:
1. In what ways is your love for God increasing?
2. Are your actions—the things you say and do—a good representation of someone who's following Christ?
3. Would God be pleased with the way you're living your life?
Wherever you are in your walk with God, there's always room to go deeper. Just as a baby would be malnourished if he/she drank milk his entire life, you'll be spiritually malnourished if you don't put in the extra effort to immerse yourself in all the things that will help you to grow closer to God.
"For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong."
—Hebrews 5:13-14 (NLT)
Obedience requires discipline, and discipline requires practice.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you have people around you that are more spiritually mature than you? I do. How are you able to discern that they are? Head on over to the discussions page, and I look forward to hearing from you :).
You were born to do amazing things. Challenge yourself this year to go deeper with your relationship with Christ. God bless!