Bible-based | Christ-centered | Family-focused | Mission-minded
As a continuation from our previous article about the characteristics of a mature Christian, we mentioned that several are emphasized in the Bible. Of those, we have chosen ten attributes to highlight in this series. Let’s now add the other five marks of a mature Christian to our preceding ones. They are: teaching; service; hope; suffering; and perseverance.
A mature Christian not only knows the Bible through personal study, but is also capable of teaching it to others. Read Matthew 28:19-20 (compare Mark 16:16). This is known as the Great Commission. This involves teaching new people about Jesus (verse 19), and what is meant by the word evangelizing. It is the command to carry the Gospel, (which means, “Good News”) and proclaim it to others in order to save more precious souls. According to Romans 1:16, where does the power of salvation lie? In addition, this also sometimes involves teachingour fellow disciples (verse 20). How does Paul describe this kind of teaching in Ephesians 4:12? Consider also what the Bible says in Acts 6:7, 8:4; and 1 Corinthians 9:16.
The true character of mature Christian is seen in their service to others. Look at the event that took place in John 13:3-15. Afterward, Jesus finished by telling His disciples that He had left them an example to follow (verse 15). Considering the passage, what was the example? Add to this the words Jesus stated in Mark 10:45, regarding His purpose for coming to earth. We can deduce that a mature Christian is to serve others and to do so by following the example of Jesus. We should also follow the example of giving of ourselves to the Lord, according to 2 Corinthians 8:5. How often does Paul suggest we should serve others in Galatians 6:10? A mature Christian always remembers that everything is to be done by the authority of Christ and for God’s glory (Colossians 3:17; Matthew 5:16). Read also Matthew 6:19-21; 1 Corinthians 10:31; and 1 Timothy 6: 6-10.
A key element to spiritual maturity is hope. Peter describes a Christian’s hope as a living hope (1 Peter 1:3) Read Romans 8:24-25 and fill in the blanks, ”For we were _______ in this hope, but hope that is __________ is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he ________? But if we hope for what we do not _______ , we eagerly wait for it with _______________ .” Hope is not an easy word to define, but Paul certainly addresses it well in his letter. Here’s an important point, according to Colossians 1:5, where is our hope laid up? A disciple must have hope.
Jesus taught that His disciples would suffer (John 15:20). This equally applies to us today, because it is certain that suffering will come in some form or another (2 Timothy 3:12). Nobody really wants to suffer. But, there are many things that result from our suffering. For one, when we are faced with trials, non-Christians will be watching carefully to see how we will respond to our circumstance. How we handle adversity can be a testimony to our faith. Secondly, read how Paul describes the benefits of suffering (Romans 5:3,4). Then, to better understand, read Romans 8:18; and 1 Peter 4:12-14.
Jesus said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life,” (Revelation 2:10). Those are very comforting and encouraging words! The apostle Peter also taught that we are to add perseverance of our faith (2 Peter 1:6). Oxford’s Online Dictionary defines perseverance as, “Persistence in doing something despite difficulty …” That can certainly describes a Christian’s life! Hebrews 12:1 encourages us with these words, “… let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, …” The word for enduranceis one that means steadfastness, constancy, and patience. Here are some more encouraging passages regarding perseverance: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 2:14-16; Colossians 1:23; 1 Timothy 4:16; James 1:12
Each of these characteristics are effectuated by faith and are also that which produces faith. A stronger faith produces spiritual maturity. An old preacher once said, “We have a faith, which is called ‘The Faith,’ that produces faith.” That is so true! Let’s make application of these ten attributes. When someone actively seeks to be (1) obedient to God, by (2) worshiping and (3) praying to Him, (4) learning His will and (5) serving in His kingdom by (6) teaching others through (7) love, while (8) persevering because of the (9) hope within, despite (10) persecution or suffering … that is, indeed, true FAITH! So, how is one able to recognize a mature Christian? Or, when is a Christian considered mature? The question is not an easy one to answer and certainly cannot be measured with precision. Everyone is different. However, the things we have presented here are some of the main characteristics that can certainly be observed and identified within a spiritually mature Christian, according to the Bible. Every disciple of Jesus has the ability to develop each one of these attributes in their own lives. This will lead to being spiritually mature. Why not make a commitment to develop these characteristics in your own life?