Are you Mature?
This is a blog post written (but never posted) long before some true spiritual, emotional and physical suffering in my life. I post it here as a reminder of where I’ve been and where the Lord is taking me.
Thank you Lord for your patience with me, a truly broken vessel. Your steadfast love for me is astounding.
I like to think I'm a mature believer. I "asked Jesus into my heart" at the age of 5 and have been striving to walk with him ever since. This makes me a mature "believer," right? My theological knowledge is solid. God has blessed my church-going, my praying, my Bible reading, and my confession at the Lord's table. I grasp the mysteries of redeeming love. I cherish the spiritual doctrines that, with the Holy Spirit's help, have somehow traveled from my head to my heart and have produced ongoing change in my life. I enjoy the beauty of God's creation. I believe and trust every word of the Bible. I have been given a clear view of God's greatness and majesty and marvel in his sovereignty daily. I'm mature in my faith, right?
Unfortunately, although the above principles are true in the life of a genuinely mature believer (and they are true of me), it's staggering how many other things are true of me as well. The self-righteousness in my heart is unprecedented. I'm not just prone to legalism, I AM legalistic. I tend to be stingy, not generous. I'm resentful over certain realities in my life. I lack self-control and often worship my idols rather than my Lord. I fail to remember how deep & wide God's love for me truly is. I forget to hate my sin and how it grieves God's heart and instead usually hate myself for my sin and end up wallowing in guilt and personal shame. I underestimate the power of the supernatural war going on inside me failing often to use God's help to fight the battle.
So, now what; am I a mature believer or not?
Well, there are some other marks of a mature believer that I'm learning all the time via the supernatural illumination from the Holy Spirit in my heart (and via the forced sabbatical I've taken from my life due to my prolonged illness!). I've learned not to get stuck in despair over my weakness and sinfulness but instead to move forward in my acknowledgment of God's generosity to me in spite of my sin. I've learned to rejoice even as I grieve over my sin because I see God's patience and faithfulness with me in the context of my continued disobediences. I'm remembering to look back and see the innumerable ways God has given me good instead of evil. I'm becoming skilled at mourning my lack of righteousness but also frolicking in the perfect righteousness given to me by Christ. I'm cultivating an understanding of my own weakness which causes me to cast myself continually and repeatedly on the Lord's grace and mercy in my time of need. I've become studious in confessing my sin freely and often because I am beginning to literally live at the foot of the cross where I'm bathed in forgiveness and hope everyday EVEN as I still sin. I'm working hard to celebrate God's power to use even my sin to lead me into a deeper understanding of his grace.
In short, I'm actually becoming humble, not just simply trying to be humble. Why? Because slowly but surely I'm learning that I'm in as much need of God's grace to stand in obedience today as I was when I was 5 years old. As the writer of Amazing Grace said "I am a great sinner and Christ is great Savior" (John Newton).