In many cultures, one is considered an adult when one turns twenty-one. Now, can we apply this consideration to one who has been a Christian for twenty-one years? Can he or she be immediately considered spiritually mature because of that? The answer is a NO. One's spiritual maturity is not determined by how long one has been a Christian. It is not determined by one’s active involvement in various ministries in church, or one’s vast knowledge about God or Christian doctrines. It is also not determined by how high one’s standing is or how important a role one plays in church either.
There are ways to gauge spiritual maturity, but certainly not any of the above ways. What was the apostle Paul’s way? He considered the Corinthians not mature in Christ yet (1 Cor. 3:1b) because there was jealousy and strife among them—some claimed they followed Paul while some claimed they followed Apollos, which showed they were still worldly (1 Cor. 3:3-4). A Christian’s spiritual maturity is partly determined by his or her attitude in living life with others. If there is still jealousy and strife in him or her, he or she is still not mature in Christ yet.
To be mature in Christ, according to Paul, we must firstly depart from sin (1 Cor. 3:1-4); putting away childish attitudes and behaviours like self-centeredness, insistence on having one’s own way, pride, anger, blaming others, envy, selfish ambitions, and seeking popularity and garnering support from others to secure one’s position and influence for one’s own selfish gains. Secondly, we must focus on God (1 Cor. 3:5-9); growing by the power of the Holy Spirit to be more and more like Christ: That you “may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15, KJV).
Brothers-and sisters-in-Christ, forget about how long we have been Christians. Forget about how high our standing is or how important a role we play in church. Forget about how active our involvement is in various ministries in church. Forget about how vast our knowledge about God or Christian doctrines is. Let us instead examine carefully our attitudes and behaviours, to see if there is jealousy and strife in us. If there is, we are not mature in Christ yet; we are no more than infants who still need to be fed milk not solid food.
Are we mature in Christ or do we simply feel mature in Christ?