Just because you reach a certain birthday does not mean you are mature. And there is no area where that is more true than in matters of the heart and soul.

But what does it mean to grow up spiritually? Does it mean you spend hours a day in prayer? Have large portions of the Bible memorized? Work as a ministry professional?

Those things have little or nothing to do with true spiritual maturity.

What Spiritual Maturity is NOT

You know people who are emotionally and spiritually children, even though they have lived many years. You know the retired grandmother who no one wants to be around. She’s always complaining about the terrible things life has done to her. Her health is poor. She’s bitter and lonely. If you try and offer help, it’s never enough. Even her physical body appears shriveled and sad. She’s always unhappy, always demanding help, and then she criticizes anyone trying to offer that help.

Or there’s the middle-aged church deacon who has a spiritual answer for everything. His kids left home at the first opportunity: they couldn’t take the micromanagement and constant put-downs any longer. His wife has either deteriorated into a doormat, or has left him. He has quoted the same Bible verses for 30 years, often to point out how someone else is not following Scriptural advice. And yet his own personal life is filled with sexual indiscretions, financial cheating, and broken hearts.

Perhaps these are some of the more extreme examples, but they show what will result if you don’t grow up on the inside. This internal spiritual immaturity is one big reason even Christian leaders too often fall. Scripturally, even Jesus had to go through a maturing process both in body and in spirit. (See Luke 2:52 and Hebrews 5:8)

What Spiritual Maturity IS

But what does a spiritually mature person look like? (Remember, this has nothing to do with years.) There is certainly much more to spiritual growth than this short article can illustrate, but it helps to know where you are headed, where God is working to take you.

You know someone who is spiritually mature would not look like a Pharisee. Or a Judas. Or a “doubting Thomas.” Legalistic, self-righteous, frightened, anxious, withdrawn, proud, or angry would not fit. Spiritual maturity might, of course, look a lot like Jesus.

Here’s what spiritual maturity would include:

  • Strength and courage: not easily swayed by other’s opinions, confident in your own relationship with God
  • Kind and generous: looking out more for the needs of others than your own, freely giving whatever you have to give
  • Aware of your own weaknesses: conscious of your own humanity, and willing to allow God and others to bring you correction when needed
  • Flexible emotionally: able to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice, able to express all human emotions when appropriate
  • Response to trouble: you respond with honesty, willing to bring the big questions to God Himself, and to accept help from others
  • Live with integrity: you do what you say and say what you do, without any hidden agenda or skeletons in the closet

If you knew someone like that, wouldn’t you enjoy being around them?

We all have a lot of growing to do. It’s only God’s grace that makes it possible. If you’re not there yet, don’t quit. Just determine to allow God to continue to grow you.

Your turn: How would you characterize your level of spiritual maturity? Where do you believe God is trying to “grow” you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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