– by Adriel Sanchez –
Faithfully going to church doesn’t automatically make you a mature Christian. I’d never discourage you from being in church every Sunday, but hearing the word isn’t the same thing as heeding it. I fear that some believers, despite their ability to articulate true things about God, are not progressing in Christian maturity. Real gospel growth depends on a right understanding of God, and it manifests itself in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-24). It is possible to be in a church with sound teaching for many years and have stunted growth, though. The author to the Hebrews lamented that after several years of solid biblical teaching, his audience still had not progressed much in their Christian life. He wrote,
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb. 5:12-14)
Picture a grown man, who should be teaching others, drinking out of a sippy cup and re-enrolling in pre-school. Spiritually speaking, that’s how the author to the Hebrews described the recipients of his letter. They had been under the ministry of the word for a long time, but tragically they remained children. Has the same thing happened to you? Here are three biblical signs that you might be spiritually immature:
Spiritually immature Christians are gullible to strange doctrines.
Paul told the Ephesians that God gives us pastors and teachers to build us up in the word so that, “we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph. 4:14).
Growing up by the beach, I spent a bit of time in the ocean as a kid. I can tell you, few things are more terrifying than seeing a large set of waves headed your way when you’re no taller than four feet! I remember a few occasions in which I was taken under by a wave and tumbled beneath the surface of the water. It’s disorienting! Spiritually immature believers are like small children in the ocean, frequently disoriented by waves of bad theology. One sign of being a spiritual child is that every time some new teaching or doctrine blows by, your faith is shaken by it.
As we mature in faith, certain perspectives we had about God often do develop, but the spiritually immature are marked by instability. With each new book or blog post they read, they change their views whichever way the wind is blowing. As we grow up in that gospel, the waves and winds of weird doctrines don’t knock us down as they once did.
Spiritually immature Christians aren’t able to play nice with other believers.
Having four children under seven, I’ve learned that when you take your kids to the park there are certain phrases that get repeated a lot: “Don’t take that, it doesn’t belong to you!”; “Make sure you share!”; “It’s her turn to go down the slide now!”; “Don’t bite!” Children need to learn to play nice with each other, and this is true of the spiritually immature. Paul told the Corinthians,
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? (1 Cor. 3:1-3)
A sure sign of spiritual immaturity is that there is strife between us and our brothers and sisters in Jesus. When they do something to offend us, we retaliate by hurting them with our words (to them, or to others about them), or severing the relationship entirely. When things go well for other believers, instead of rejoicing with them, we’re jealous that it happened to them and not to us. This leads to viewing others in the church with contempt. There’s