May 2024 | Vision Leads to Transformation

How to Become a Mature Christian
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How to Become a Mature Christian

Dr. Valson Abraham

How do you know if you are a mature Christian? 

Turn to the writings of James, the apostle. Right away, James tells us that his purpose in writing is “that you may be mature and complete.” 

The Greek word that James uses for “mature” is teleios. In his day, teleios was the word used to express perfection, wholeness, complete integrity. Perfection was the point beyond which there could be no further advance. Perfection means 100%. Perfection means “whole and complete.” 

To the Greeks, perfection was often an interesting idea to be discussed and debated. Philosophers spent much time trying to define and describe what perfection looked like if it existed. But to James, perfection was not simply an ideal to be discussed, but something dynamic. To him it was something to be actualized in the lives of real people. Perfection was not just a theory, it was a practical possibility. The Greeks of his day would have regarded him as a radical. 

But James seems to realize that this road to maturity and perfection would not come with ease or immediacy. Right away, James tells us, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” 

As we look to the nature of maturity and recognize our lingering immaturity, let us remember where to go. That in itself is a sign of growing maturity. The more consistently we seek after God, the more we are living in maturity. 

James himself had to grow in maturity. James was Jesus’ brother. He had the privilege of being raised in the same home that God chose to raise our Lord Jesus. There is no indication that James accepted Jesus’ authority during Jesus’ earthly ministry. He had to grow in his understanding of who Jesus was. 

Not until Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to him was James convinced of Jesus’ Lordship (I Corinthians 15:7). After that, he served as a leader in the church of Jerusalem until he was stoned to death by the orders of Ananias the high priest about AD 62. He wrote his book between AD 44-50. He was a person who experienced many trials and paid with his life. So what he says comes from his own hard experiences of growth. Let that encourage you as you grow in the Lord. 

What does it mean to be “perfect?” I think of the purity of gold. That means there is nothing to detract from its “goldness.” You cannot divide gold into any other separate entities. It is gold through and through. 

This is the kind of maturity that James is talking about-becoming a whole person. You can’t divide yourself between what you are in secret from what you are in public. You can’t divide your beliefs from your actions. You can’t divide your conduct from your standards. What others see is exactly who you are, at any time and place you want to choose. 

You are undivided in your faith. You are undivided in your obedience. You are undivided in your behavior. The things you must do are the things you always do. The things you must not do are the things you never do. One hundred percent. 

I believe that every person who has a relationship with Jesus Christ longs for wholeness and completeness. This desire is planted by the Holy Spirit. It is God’s way of drawing us closer to Himself. We have a choice to either heed the Holy Spirit’s voice or to ignore it. I trust that even now, the Holy Spirit is drawing you to seek after maturity. 

If you do not have this longing for maturity, You should seriously question your relationship with Jesus Christ. 

James gives us a number of ways to measure our maturity. The list below is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of how you can determine where you stand in your walk toward maturity. As you read the list, ask the Lord where you lack wisdom, and He will show you the way. In brief, James says you can measure your maturity by the following: 

By the way you handle trials and testings. 

By the way you handle temptations.

By the way you respond to the Word of God.

By the way you handle impulses.

By the way your actions match your beliefs.

By the concern you show for those in distress.

By your equal treatment of all regardless of their condition.

By the extent you control your tongue and use it for good rather than evil.

By the extent you exhibit righteousness and godly wisdom.

By the extent you depend upon God and show a repentant spirit.

By the way you use your financial resources fairly for godly purposes and honest dealings with others.

By your patient waiting for the Lord’s coming.

By your effective use of prayer to change the lives of others, to bring healing of mind, body and spirit.

How you handle the first three determines how well you will do with the rest.

Handling Trials

There is something you should know about the road to maturity. It will come through trials and testings. This is James’ word to us in 1:2 and following verses. If you are like me, you don’t especially like trials and testings. But James tells us not to reject these things. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds.”

To most of us, joy and trails seem incompatible. But James says trials are inevitable. Note that he says, “when you face trials.” We cannot live this earthly life without trials. Not even Jesus escaped them.

James says we will all be tested by fire. Testing shows us where our faith is off base and where we need to grow. Testing produces perseverance–not passive, fatalistic resignation to the inevitable. Perseverance toughens and disciplines us. Perseverance makes us mature and complete, lacking in nothing. Toughness keeps a person aggressively and actively pressing on. Keep on keeping in–that’s what trials teach us. Perseverance is essential to achieve maturity. If you give up, you will never grow up.

There is another meaning for teleios. It also means “to be fitted for the end in view.” God has something good in mind for you beyond suffering. He wants to equip you for a particular task meant for you and you alone. If you respond appropriately to testing times and gain perseverance, you will slowly but surely become fitted for the end He has in mind. You can be sure that end will glorify Him, bless others and bless you.

So it becomes imperative that we manage these trials well. Prayfully read James 1 and let the Holy Spirit show you how to manage your trials and testings.

Handling Temptation

How you handle your trial will determine if it remains a trial or becomes a temptation. The Greek word, peirasmois, is used for trial as well as for temptations. To approach temptations properly, we need two things a–proper perspective on trial and a proper perspective on temptation. We have one of two choices: the opportunity to do right or the opportunity to do wrong. If you face trials in the right way, you will ultimately experience maturity and blessing. If you face trials in the wrong way, your circumstances prove to be a temptation. 

Remember that testing comes from God to bring the best out of us. The devil tempts us to bring out the worst through temptations.

In vs. 14-15, we learn that each of us has earthly desires or “lusts” Temptations come from various sources from within and without, but never from God. God has pure eyes and cannot look upon evil. (Habakkuk 1:13) Temptations violate God’s character. At the same time God is trying to refine us, Satan tries to appeal to these earthly desires. Satan tempted Job to get him to curse God. At the same time, God was testing Job to refine him. 

In v, 16, we read about the subtlety of temptation: “Do not err, my beloved brothers. avoid being deceived by giving heed to the word of God.” 

Becoming Mature Through the Word of God 

Gaining maturity comes only through keeping a right attitude about God. James reminds us who God is. God is truly the Perfect One. God is whole and complete. Therefore, God gives only perfect gifts. He is the source of our maturity. In His perfection, He commanded the sun, the moon and stars to shine their light on the earth. God is the father of light. Not only does he give light through the sun and moon but through His Word. 

Learn to listen to the word. Receive it with meekness. Receive it in obedience. Receive it with a pure heart, rejecting filthiness and impurity. Be ready to do what it tells you. Remember that it is not the occasional glance but the constant gaze into God’s Word that brings maturity. 

God bless you as you grow in Him.

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