We are nearly halfway through the month of November and we have not yet called your attention to this month’s issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries’s monthly devotional magazine.
The November 2016 issue focuses our minds and hearts on the subject of Christian maturity, a trait mirrored in the creation in the Fall season as the crops reach their ripened state and are harvested. So believers in Christ are to develop in Christian graces as we go through life, so that in the harvest of our lives we are ripe for glory, to the praise of the God of all grace.
Burk Parsons introduces this subject with an editorial titled “Mature in Christ.” There he writes in his closing remarks:
Paul said to young Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). Even the youngest believers can attain and model emotional and spiritual maturity, for maturity is not a matter of age. Some of the youngest among us are the most mature and some of the oldest are the least mature. Young and old alike, God calls all His people to grow into “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13), and this not so people will exalt us but so they will exalt our risen and returning Savior, as we strive to live as mature believers, looking to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.
One of the main articles I read yesterday before worship was “Immaturity” by Dr. Dan Demas. Part of his message is to put the finger on the causes of immaturity in the church and among Christians in our day. He points to three causes: apathy, laziness, and ignorance – all serious maladies.
About apathy he writes:
Apathy is a primary maturity killer. When self-focus enters our hearts and consumes us, the hunger for spiritual things exits. The cold hard fact is that some people just don’t care and have been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13). Small thoughts of God yield a small view of sanctification.
Little thoughts of God snuff out the necessary zeal for mature Christlikeness. The backslider has said in his heart, “I don’t care.” A cold, apathetic faith is an immature faith. Immaturity as a result of apathy doesn’t animate anything; it only steals, kills, and destroys maturity. Apathy cannot be reasoned with and makes us numb to spiritual realities. All sin makes us stupid, but apathy makes us cold and stupid.
But Demas is not simply negative in his approach to immaturity. At the end of his article he points us to the positive side:
We must have sanctification in our sights. Make maturity a high-value target. Ask God to awaken zeal in you to fight the flesh. Ask Him to ignite your zeal for truth. Maturity is not for a select few but is the goal for all of us. Once you’ve tasted maturity, it’s hard to go back.
…We must exchange apathy, laziness, and ignorance for a zeal for spiritual maturity, an insatiable appetite for the Word, the necessary discipline to consistently walk in the Spirit, and a passion for modeling maturity for the next generation. My prayer is that God will awaken us to our apathy, give us a healthy disdain for immaturity, a right theological perspective regarding sanctification, the necessary discipline to pursue maturity with diligence, and a hunger and thirst for a more mature faith.
Is maturity in our Christian faith and life something we are striving for and praying for?