Who is the one person in your life, past or present, you think of when you hear the phrase – spiritually mature? If you are like me there is at least one person who comes to mind.
Why do I think of them? What are the characteristics I identify?
I know this list is short and non-exhaustive, but how is that for starters?
Do you see what these terms have in common? They are relational terms. As I think of one of the people that I consider being spiritually mature, I think of these four words FIRST. When I think of people I believe have some measure of spiritual maturity, the reason I think of them is how they make me feel.
I know this may sound self-centered, but think for a minute about what I just said. When you think of someone you respect and would like to become (in many ways) as they are how do you feel? Is it fair to say you feel something good and uplifting? Spiritual maturity may be defined in different ways and explained from different perspectives, but it is OBSERVED as people interact with each other through the good and bad moments and circumstances of life.
Here is my thinking about my spiritual maturity. Am I willing to observe how others act and react when we are together? While it is not possible to always judge how I make other people feel, it is a reasonable task to learn how to observe others’ verbal and non-verbal reactions to my words and ways of interaction. This doesn’t mean I am judging them for the rightness or wrongness of their attitudes, words, and actions. In reality, I am observing them that I may judge myself.
Once I begin noticing others the next step in my maturation is to then ask myself a second question. Do I love others well? To love others well is to be kind, gracious, and forgiving. So, am I up to the task? Do I have the courage to judge myself?
What do the Scriptures say? Let us begin here…
“27 But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. 31 Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
39 He also told them a parable: “Can the blind guide the blind? Won’t they both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
41 “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself don’t see the log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck in your brother’s eye.”
Luke 6:27-42 HCSB