Spiritual maturity is the reward of choosing to do what others only choose to hear.
– Pastor J
“And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don’t obey, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen and don’t obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance.” James 1:22-23 (NLT)
How often I’ve heard such statements as, “I’m no longer growing in this church.” I’ve pondered such statements that suggests that our fellowship with a certain group of believers or the pastor is responsible for the lack of our spiritual growth, and have weighed it to the merit of scripture. Does the bible support such allegations against a congregation of believers or against a person who has been ordained by God to equip saints? Or do these statements merely unveil the depth of ignorance that grips the mind of the present day Christian? Is this further proof that the philosophies of this age have arrested the doctrine of the modern church?
God clearly places the responsibility of spiritual growth not on the church or the leadership of the church, but on the individual member. Spiritual maturity is the result of the individual member applying in his/her personal life the truths that govern our faith. “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:13-14 (NIV)
The maturity of the Church is determined by the maturity of each individual part or member. If we as individual members don’t accept our responsibility to grow spiritually by applying in and to our lives the righteousness of God according to His word then the body of Christ as a whole suffers and lacks. “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:15-16 (NIV) Spiritual maturity is not so much about teaching as it is doing.
Church leadership is given the mandate to “equip” believers for the work of the ministry, not work it for you. Church leadership equips the believer with the sound doctrines of truth, love, faith, grace, mercy and righteousness, but the individual member is responsible for applying these doctrines to their personal life working these truths in the interaction with other believers. “He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT) To dismember yourself on the basis of offense, frustration of leadership, dissatisfaction of ministry, etc. is failure on the part of the individual to love the people rather than the package. We have forgotten that the church is not a package that presents the gospel, but a body of people who are living witnesses of the gospel. And our spiritual maturity is proven by our ability to love the people beyond ourselves, and we will be given every opportunity to constantly apply His love to others proving our growth in the full knowledge of Christ and His love.