Definition: The quality or state of being fully grown or developed; having reached a final or desired state.
1. Maturation is an on-going process.
Philippians 3:12,13 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.
Hebrews 6:1a [After learning the basics, there is much more to learn.] Therefore leaving the principles [the basics] of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection [maturity].
Hebrews 13:20,21 Now the God of peace … 21 Make you perfect [complete] in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
2 Peter 1:5-10 [The step-by-step formula for maturing:] And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience Godliness; 7 And to Godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.
2. Time-tested maturity is gained through experience.
Exodus 2:11-15; Acts 7:30-35 [Young Moses had to learn valuable lessons as a shepherd in Midian for 40 years before he was ready to lead his people out of Egypt. When he was younger, acting in his own strength and impulsiveness, he made a serious mistake, which caused him to have to flee for his life.] He spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. … 13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? 14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? Intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst
the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. 15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian. … Acts 7:30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. … 35 This Moses whom they refused [forty years before], saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? The same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.
1 Timothy 3:6 [Paul warns not to put immature people, novices, into positions of leadership, which could lift them up in pride.] Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the Devil.
1 Timothy 3:10 [Again Paul suggests that deacons first be tested, before being given titles of responsibility.] And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
Hebrews 5:13,14 [It seems to take learning and experience to know how to use the Word with maturity, and often this takes time.] For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the Word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use [experience] have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
3. Spiritual maturity is not always a matter of years or experience.
Isaiah 11:6b A little child shall lead them.
1 Samuel 3:1,7,10-13,18-20 [God gives young Samuel his first message, a very serious one for his errant elder, Eli:] And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the Word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision. … 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the Word of the Lord yet revealed unto him. [After calling Samuel three times:] 10 Then Samuel answered, Speak; for Thy servant heareth. 11 And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. 12 In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. 13 For I have told
him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. … 18 And Samuel told him [Eli] every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he [Eli] said, It is the Lord: let Him do what seemeth Him good. 19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord. [See all of chapter 3.]
Job 32:7-9 [Elihu commented to Job that there is no rule that older folks always know better, but God can give maturity and understanding by spiritual inspiration.] I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. 8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. 9 Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.
Psalm 8:2a Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength.
Psalm 119:100 [David grew wiser than his elders because he faithfully studied and lived in the Word.] I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Thy precepts.
Matthew 11:25 [The Lord rewards child-like faith.] Jesus answered and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
1 Timothy 4:12 [Paul exhorts Timothy to use his authority over the church, even though he was a young leader.] Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. [See also 1 Corinthians 16:10,11.]
4. Spiritual maturity depends on our connection with the Lord.
Psalm 16:8 I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Daniel 11:32b The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
John 15:4,5 [Living close to the Lord brings spiritual maturity, which bears good fruit.] Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. 5 I am the Vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.
Colossians 2:9,10 For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power:
5. Spiritual maturity also depends on our connection with His Word.
Isaiah 28:9,10,13 Whom shall he [Isaiah] teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. … 13 But the Word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. …
Psalm 119:98,99 [David's love for the Lord and His Word made him wiser than his enemies and even his teachers.] Thou through Thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for Thy testimonies are my meditation.
Matthew 13:3-8,18-23 [Receptivity to the Word results in maturity and fruitfulness.] And He spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. … 18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the
Word of the Kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the Wicked One, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the Word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the Word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the Word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the Word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some
sixty, some thirty.
1 Timothy 4:15,16 [Paul encourages young Timothy to dig into the Word.] Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto Salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect [complete], throughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
1 John 2:5 But whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.
6. Spiritual maturity is a matter of our obedience and yieldedness.
Deuteronomy 10:12,13 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13 To keep the commandments of the Lord, and His statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?
Isaiah 50:5 The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.
Matthew 13:11 [Jesus told His faithful disciples that God was giving them understanding more than the "honorable" scribes and Pharisees.] He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
Colossians 2:6,7 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: 7 Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Titus 2:7,8a In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8a Sound speech, that cannot be condemned.
Hebrews 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
1 John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
7. We mature spiritually when we learn to take responsibility for ourselves.
Job 19:4 And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself.
Proverbs 9:12 [Wisdom is it's own reward.] If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.
Lamentations 3:27 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
Romans 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
Galatians 6:5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. [See also Independence, ]
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 [Carnal-mindedness is an obstacle to spiritual maturity.] And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
1 Corinthians 13:11 [Becoming mature means putting aside childish habits.] When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1 Corinthians 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
Ephesians 4:14 [One symptom of immaturity is being lacking personal convictions; being easily swayed by others.] That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
Hebrews 5:12 [Some folks just don't grow up, and end up having to be taught over and over the same basic truths.] For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. [See also 2 Timothy 3:7.]
James 1:22-24 But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
9. Mature children:
Proverbs 20:11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
Proverbs 23:24,25 [Mature, wise children are a joy to their parents:] The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. 25 Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.
Titus 2:4b,6 [Adults are encouraged to teach youth to be sober:] Teach the young women to be sober. … 6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
2 Timothy 2:22 [Paul cautions Timothy to flee temptations and tendencies which are common in our youth:] Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
1 John 2:13b,14 [John commends the young people who've overcome the Enemy through their love for the Word, and through knowing the Lord with personal faith:] I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the Wicked One. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. 14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the Word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the Wicked One.
10. Here are a few other examples from the Bible of young but mature leaders:
Jeremiah 1:5-7 [The Lord made Jeremiah a prophet while very young, even though he felt quite incapable.] Before I [the Lord] formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. 6 Then said I [Jeremiah], Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. 7 But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
Daniel 1:4,17-20 [Daniel and his three Hebrew buddies were mightily used of God in their youth.] Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. … 17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael,
and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
1 Chronicles 17:7b; 1 Samuel 18:30b [King David was mightily used from his youth up.] Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee [David] from the sheepcote, even from following the sheep, that thou shouldest be ruler over My people Israel: 1 Samuel 18:30b And it came to pass, after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by.
2 Kings 22:1,2 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath. 2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.
Luke 2:42,46,47 And when He [Jesus] was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. … 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
11. Our speech and actions reveal the level of our maturity.
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. [See also Psalm 39:1a.]
Proverbs 9:6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
Proverbs 29:11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.
Proverbs 31:26 [The virtuous woman is described:] She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
Ecclesiastes 5:3b A fool's voice is known by multitude of words.
Ecclesiastes 10:12,13 The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. 13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.
Ephesians 5:3,4 Let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints. … 4 Neither … foolish talking, nor jesting [obscene joking], which are not convenient [out of place]: but rather giving of thanks.
James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
James 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
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James Arendt and Tess
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