Signs of Spiritual Maturity
John Wright Follette
The will of God for our lives will gradually unfold to us
as we walk with the Lord. As we seek to please Him in all
things, He will direct our path towards the center of His
plan and purpose for us.
A man once said he had totally submitted his life to the
Lord. He likened this to giving the Lord two bundles. In the
first was all that the Lord might ask of him. He considered
these and said, "In so far as I know, Lord, I unconditionally
surrender all these to you.
In the second was all that the Lord might require, but of
which he knew nothing. Again, he considered these and unconditionally
gave these to the Lord.
Thus, he surrendered both his known and unknown will to the
Lord. Often we are caught by surprise when the Lord asks us
for something from the second bundle and we struggle in how
to deal with it.
We think, if only this could be done once and for all. No,
our submission to the Lord is to be repeated ten thousand
times. We make one grand surrender, and then repeat and repeat
it. We make one crucial choice, and then many lesser ones.
Once we surrender to Him, the Lord will accept it and then,
bless us. Many, under the inspiration of this lovely blessing,
will say to the Lord, "I will go where You want me to
go, dear Lord, I'll say what You want me to say, I'll be what
You want me to be." However, in a few days, should the
Lord ask of them the simplest thing, they are unable to respond
to the Lord according to all they had promised.
Some years ago, a young man come to the Bible School where
I taught. He had some experience in the ways of the Lord and
had ministered some. He had prayed for those who were sick
and they were healed. All this made him feel important. He
had just enough ministry to spoil him.
He came to school with the idea that he knew a considerable
amount about spiritual things. I heard him pray an extravagant
prayer in which he so desired to please the Lord that even
martyrdom would be welcomed.
All of the students were required to do a work duty. Whenever
it came his turn to wash dishes, he declared that God had
not called him to wash dishes, but to preach the Gospel. I
thought, you will not be fit to preach the Gospel until you
can wash the dishes.
He went through an awful struggle. One time, as he was loudly
praying about being a martyr, I wanted to tell him about the
dish pan. In his spirit, something was twisted or criss crossed,
but on the surface there was not a nicer person. He did finally
come through, but the Lord had to do many things to bring
about the deep inner correction that was needed.
After being in the ministry for a few years, he visited the
school. He hugged me and said he had not known what ministry
was really like, but now that he was a pastor, he understood.
The Lord had done a marvelous work within him.
Be careful of pledging, "I will go where You want me
to go" just because it is easy to sing. The Lord might
ask you to do something you do not want to do. He knows exactly
what to ask of us, and what it will take to expose our need
and make a way for Him to bring the necessary correction.
I have discovered several principles that are "Signs
of Spiritual Maturity." We often desire to know, "Am
I really growing, is there any spiritual maturing in me?"
There are certain signs given in the Word of God that are
indicative of this. But first, we must recognize the symptoms
of spiritual immaturity.
There are spiritual babies in the family of God. In the natural
realm, there are certain characteristics that belong to a
baby. We should not expect too much from a beginner. Those
who are just beginning their spiritual journey should be allowed
ample time to work their way through those things which belong
to "a babe in Christ." Do not give them meat; they
are not ready for it yet.
A child is only content in an environment which becomes a
child. We are not to remain spiritual babies, but often we
expect Christians to mature too rapidly. The Lord sometimes
allows a person to be saved for many years before they emerge
from their babyhood experiences. We should be very patient.
We must be careful when we give counsel to another. First,
we must classify the one we desire to help. The Lord will
give us insight and wisdom in how to direct this person. We
should not attempt to tell a person their spiritual age, as
it may cause them to stumble.
In the original language of Scripture, there are "sons
of God" and "grown up sons." These are two
different words. Obviously, both are true sons, but there
is a difference. The second one has struggled in the sense
of growth, to arrive at a level of spiritual maturity where
the Lord can bring into his pattern of life things which he
could not have previously handled.
There are also "fathers" and "mothers"
in Israel." It is foolish for one who is not yet mature
in the things of God to attempt to assume the role of a "father"
who advises and counsels. The result can be devastating to
those who are spiritually ignorant and take seriously the
advice they received. No one should attempt to give to another
a word of wisdom, counsel, or guidance until they first have
gone through a period of "intensive living" under
the dealings and workings of the Holy Spirit.
We may be conscious of the needs of another, but this does
not mean that we are spiritually qualified to help them. It
takes time and experience to become "fathers" and
"mothers" in Israel."
If we are spiritually discerning and wise, we will know where
a person is in their spiritual development by the way they
testify or pray. The type of questions they ask also helps
to classify them. In this, we must be careful not to assume
the role of a critic.
There are signs which signify we are coming into a mature
relationship with the Lord. A natural child gives great pleasure
to the parent when he is obedient. But, the father does not
expect this child to bear the burden of the mortgage on their
home. There is a place of understanding and sharing with the
Lord of which a spiritual child is incapable.
The outgrowth of the general characteristics of being a baby
is one of the first signs of spiritual growth. A babe is always
egocentric. He is born that way and neither the Lord nor the
parents fault him for it. As a baby plays, he centers everything
upon himself, pulling whatever he can reach to himself.
We find this carried over into the spirit. "When I received
MY baptism" or, "the Lord said to ME." "Did
you hear what the Lord did THROUGH ME?" These are symptoms
of spiritual immaturity. The Lord will let us lay there and
kick our feet for a long time, but then He brings us to the
place where we begin to push out and enter new horizons.
A baby has no conception as to His identity. Then he comes
into a discovery of "self entity." He will discover
that he is different from anything He had been touching. Have
you seen a little baby discover his toes?
After this "self discovery," we begin to mature
to the place where we realize that we were not made for ourselves,
but for the Lord. Then in a surrender and dedication of our
lives to the Lord, He can begin to work into us the things
To have Christ formed within us, and the Lord's will perfectly
wrought out through us, is an objective which will require
every aspect of our being to make this possible. We cannot
press a button and accomplish it in a minute. Our spiritual
development demands much submission, faith, and obedience.
It takes all this to make the Lord's objective for us possible,
which is to "conform us to the image of His Son."
He cannot give this to us as a gift. We do not achieve spiritual
maturity just because we are Christians.
There is another sign that we are progressing towards maturity.
We learn how to focus upon a Scriptural objective in our living
and therefore begin to understand the Lord's ways. As a result,
when He works on us, we do not react and blame the enemy for
what is taking place. Now, we no longer attempt to escape
an arrangement that may have taken the Lord years to set up
to accomplish His purpose within us.
Another indication of spiritual maturity is the ability to
interpret the movings of God. We are able to say, "And
we know that all things work together for good to them that
love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose"
Rom 8:28. No longer are we egocentric, praying outlandish
prayers, but we have become Christ centered. We realize that
we are in Christ and that everything must relate to Him.
Finally, we are to resist and rebuke the enemy. The Lord
teaches our hands to war and our fingers to fight. Then He
turns around and allows the enemy to get us into a difficult
situation. He gives us a consciousness that this is an arrangement
that He is using for a purpose. If we can accept it as being
from the Lord and trust Him for the deliverance which He will
bring, He will use this for our discipline and training.
Does all this come to us at once? In the natural, a baby
does not grow into an adult overnight. But as he approaches
maturity, he begins to leave behind the former things. In
the spiritual realm as well, he should go beyond the blessings,
gifts, and movings, which the Lord used to provoke his spiritual
These are signs by which we can rightly judge our progress
towards mature spirituality. By these, we can know where we
are and the changes that are needed to bring us into an alignment
with all the Lord desires for us.
NOTE:::: Following is a "side bar" which should
be placed in an out lined and tinted block somewhere besides
the article See me if a question.
INDICATIONS OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY
. A move from self absorption
to self surrender
. A preoccupation with blessings and
gifts turns to the Lord Himself.
. Responds to difficult situations as
discipline and training.
. Discerning and wise in counsel of
. Exercises patience with less mature
. Christ becomes all and in all.