Continued from here.
This week, I am writing about my reaction to the chapter entited Softness and Sweetness in Wayne Jacobsen’s book, In Season: Embracing the Father’s Process of Fruitfulness. In this chapter, he stated,
There is no more accurate sign of maturity than those who treat others, all others, with kindness and gentleness.”
I found this interesting because I have never heard kindness and gentleness identified as the primary sign of spiritual maturity. I used to believe that spiritual maturity came from being very knowledgeable about the Bible. However, I was extremely knowledgeable about the Bible for decades but was nonetheless miserable because I was not doing the things I knew about. Now that I have been actually doing them for close to six years, I have noticed that some of the unhappiest Christians I know are extremely knowledgeable about the Bible. So, I now agree that spiritual maturity cannot be measured by head knowledge about the Bible.
Many people believe that spiritual maturity is present in anyone engaged in ministry (whether professional ministry or as a volunteer), but I have encountered people in ministry who cause more division than those they are leading! Others believe that the evidence of spiritual maturity is having a large number of followers, but I have seen people with large followings who appeared to be leading people in ways that cause conflict while I have seen people who clearly love the LORD wholeheartedly entrusted with a small group of disciples.
Perhaps the purported evidence of spiritual maturity I disagree with the most is the simple passage of time. Some people believe that anyone who grew up in the church and now has gray hair is spiritually mature simply because he or she warmed a pew each week. I’ve met some gray-haired folks who rarely missed a Sunday in their lives whose lives don’t look much different from those in the World around them other than where they spend their time on Sundays.
Jesus said that we know a tree by its fruit, and Paul said that the Fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I have known people who fall under all of the above categories who did not bear those fruits. So, what evidence can we look for to determine whether someone – including ourselves! – is spiritually mature?
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace gentle holding a baby. Courtesy Bitmoji.]