I guess it’s not all that important to measure who is mature in the Lord and who isn’t, but I ask this question because it is easy for the eager Christian to be pulled in the direction of the most out spoken or self assured voice – and I wonder is that really the mark of a mature man or woman of God.
Paul has an interesting take on this matter in Romans 14 where he discusses the weak and the strong. He uses the issue of eating food previously considered unclean to illustrate his point. The strong (mature) person is not concerned about what he eats, the weak (immature) person is pre-occupied with getting it right.
We would normally assume that the person who exercises the greatest restraint is the more mature, however Paul says that restraint is not the measure of maturity, but confidence in the power of the cross.
The point Paul is making is that the substance of our faith in not found in “what we do” it is found in “what Christ has done“. That’s not to say Paul was advocating reckless or selfish living, he was simply trying to move their thinking away from a pre-occupation with themselves and their behaviour. It’s the old letter v. the Spirit issue again; we either trust in our works or Christ’s, we can’t put them both in the blender and create our own cocktail.
Let me say again – “I am not advocating a self absorbed and ungodly lifestyle, I am simply saying that a pre-occupation with right living is not the point of our Christian faith. The point of our faith is to walk freely in the righteousness, peace and joy that is ours in the Holy Spirit since coming to Christ” v17.
I am often amazed at how the Lord turns earthly thinking on it’s head – the first shall be last / come as little children / the meek will inherit the earth, etc. It seems to me the same applies to maturity… who is mature?
Is it the scholar who can quote chapter and verse? Is it the leader who directs the flock? Is it the servant who lays down his life? Is it the orator and his compelling argument? Perhaps it is simply the one who chooses to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified.
Perhaps the one who is truly mature doesn’t know all that much… but the one thing they know is so deeply embedded in their spirit that they have been transformed. They have fixed their eyes on Christ and Him crucified, and every other occupation has faded from view.