CHARACTERISTICS OF A MATURE CHRISTIAN (PART 1)

    A few years ago, while serving as a missionary in South America, I was studying with a young lady about the fundamentals of the faith. I explained to her that as a new convert, she “must grow unto spiritual maturity.” At first, she became a bit confused and then asked a pertinent question, “Well, what exactly does a mature Christian look like?” She reasoned that if she could see what it was that she needed to attain to, she could more easily arrive there. What a great attitude to have!
    So, what does a mature Christian look like? Let’s take a look at how the Bible describes that person. In doing so, we will identify ten different attributes that are emphasized frequently within the Scriptures. A Christian, who is striving to obtain spiritual maturity (whether new to the faith, or with many years) should have a life marked with the following characteristics:
 
LOVE – First and foremost, a mature Christian is characterized by love. There is nothing more important in the life of a Christian than love! Jesus exemplified love for us in every aspect of His life. Think about how one might identify you as a Christian? We are identified by what Jesus says in John 13:35.
    The Bible tells us we are to love: God (Mark 12:30); Jesus (John 14:15, 23-24); one another (John 15:12); our mother and father (Matthew 19:19); and even our enemies (Matthew 5: 44-48). This kind of love is not some “warm, and fuzzy feeling inside”! It is an unselfish love that is exhibited in our actions. This type of love is called “agape.” Remember, out of a long list of spiritual qualities, the Bible says, “the greatest of these is love,” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-13; John 3: 16-18)
 
PRAYER – A mature Christian must have a life of prayer. Without it, we can’t be pleasing to God. The Creator wants to hear from His creation, therefore, we must pray! In fact, we have such a great privilege to be able talk directly to Him! Contemplate Hebrews 4:16. Think about this also, if Jesus Christ is our example (John 13:15) and He was a man of prayer (Mark 1:35; John 17:9), then we certainly must be engaged in prayer, frequently. What are we encouraged to do, according to 1 Timothy 2:8? Consider also the manner in which Paul says we should pray in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Prayer is such an important characteristic in the life of a mature Christian. Here’s a good thing to remember, it is hard to stumble when one is upon their knees in prayer!
 
OBEDIENCE – A simple reality: One cannot be a true Christian without being obedient! Obedience that is demonstrated in every behavioral aspect of a disciple’s life is a clear sign of a mature Christian. The prophet Samuel admonished Saul saying, “Obedience is better than sacrifice,” (1 Samuel 15:22). Again, our example, Jesus, was obedient (Philippians 2:8), even unto death on the cross. What does He teach His disciples in John 14:15? Look also at what obedience provides for us in 1 John 1:7 and 2:3,4. It is only through obedience that God will allow us to enter into heaven (Matthew 7:21; Revelation 22:14).
 
WORSHIP – How can one become a mature Christian if worshiping with the church is not a high priority in their lives?! Worship is so important because it is what we are made to do. Some animals were made to run, the sun was made to shine, and man was made to worship. We have a personal responsibility to worship, (Hebrews 10:25). Think about this, if you do not like going to the worship assembly to be with your brethren, then what do you think you are going to do in heaven?
    The Scriptures give us a specific manner in which to worship, (John 4:24). To worship “in spirit” means having the right attitude and focus while engaged in worship. What can we infer from Mark 7:6 regarding our manner of worship? To worship in “truth” means to do so according to His doctrine (found only in the Bible). According to Matthew 4:10 and Exodus 34:14, what does God expect from our worship? We should always remember that God is to be the focus of our worship and not us. Worship is to give glory, honor, praise and gratitude to our Father in heaven; it is never to be for our own entertainment.
 
STUDY – We must read and study the Bible (1 Timothy 4:13; Hebrews 5:12-6:1). It is the only way to truly discern what the will of God is. It is also the only way to learn how to mature in the faith. Jesus was a man of the Scriptures. How many times did He say, “It is written,” or, “Have you not read,” (Matthew 4:4 and 12:3)? In 2 Timothy 2:15, what did Paul encourage Timothy to do? Consider also Peter’s instructions in 1 Peter 3:15. It is impossible to do what Peter says if we never study our Bibles. Therefore, let us follow the example of the Bereans in Acts 17:11, because the word of God cannot get into you if you do not first get into the word!
 
….. to be continued in next week’s bulletin – TS