What It Means To Be Spiritually Mature

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Anonymous asked a question:

Hi, I just wanted to say I really enjoy reading your blog! Thanks for taking your time to write these posts and answering questions. What does it mean to be spiritually mature? Does it just mean someone is far in their walk with God or receives many visions and revelations? Sometimes I feel like Christianity is a race to see who can achieve this maturation the fastest.

Thanks so much my friend.  I love what I do and I love every one of you I can serve, even if it helps just a few.

I appreciate your question too. You’re not alone in thinking this.  Many Christians are straight up exhausted with all these absurd spiritual parameters that we throw on ourselves.  Most of them are not from, you know, the Bible.

I get pretty sad about this one because I meet Christians who will say, “I just don’t think I’m growing.  I read the Bible morning and night, I attend church nine times per week, I talk with God at sunrise and in the car and during my lunch break, I evangelized to only four people this month, and I listened to a messed up kid for an hour without saying Jesus once.”

I keep thinking, “Dang dude — you’re actually growing a lot.”

When we set such high ridiculous standards, I think we go into morbid self-punishment by 1) measuring our quantity, 2) measuring our intentions, 3) grading our intensity, and 4) comparing to other “good Christians.”

I feel like Satan is laughing his butt off while we run around trying harder, doing more, hyping up our feelings, and defining our spirituality with distorted definitions.

While I could give you some very long guidelines about spiritual maturity, the simplest thing I can say is:  Spiritual maturity is about loving God and loving people.

Please consider asking yourself: What kind of people do you think helped you grow when you hung out with them?  I bet my left foot that it was people who loved God and loved others.

I don’t know if anything else really matters.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 that if you’re the smartest guy of all time, if you can predict the future, if you drop-kick a mountain, and if you stop world hunger, but you don’t love people, then it doesn’t matter what else you do anyway.

You might have heard “love God and love people” a million times, but really: what else matters?

Spiritual growth then is unlocking any part of us that helps us move forward on this, whether it’s letting go of something or starting something new.

This is God’s goal for you too.  He beckons you to Himself by loving you first, and it’s through His Son that His love overflows through you in abundance toward others.

Everything God does is to grow the Greatest Commandment in you.

He gives you His own Holy Spirit to flex His fruits through you like patience, kindness, and self-control.

He commands us to go and make disciples so that others would be invited into the Story of God.

He gives us commands that give us freedom and wisdom for our own good and joy and harmony with one another.

He sent His Son as both an example and a savior so we could become like Jesus — who loved God and loved people.

When we get to this place of loving God for who He is and loving people without expecting anything back, then the exhausting race stops.  We’re no longer performing to “earn God” somehow, because we already have His approval.  We no longer need to impress others because we’re loving them regardless of how they respond.

Those not driven by grace — the knowledge that God absolutely loves us despite us — are constantly punishing themselves towards an impossible standard that is really just self-slavery.

The mature Christian is able to act out of the God-initiated love in their own heart to move towards God and people without expectation or competition.  It’s the perfect motivation of non-motivation, because grace is its own self-sustaining empowerment.

It’s tough to get to that sort of mindset, and it’s certainly a messy journey.  But I believe the more we press into the confidence of knowing that God eternally loves us through His Son, then the more we can loosen the chains of all that stands in our way: even if it’s ourselves.

— J.S.

“Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people he has made?”

— Francis Chan

16 thoughts on “What It Means To Be Spiritually Mature

  1. AMEN. Many years ago a woman I respected had me convinced that because I had never spoken in tongues, I wasn’t “quite there yet” as a Christian. I would never be mature till that happened. It took a lot of prayer and Bible reading to undo this fallacy.

    I like your definition of spiritual maturity: loving God and loving people. It’s simple, yet all encompassing!


  2. Aaaannd…. if you need a little help loving other people, just ask God for that help. He absolutely will give it to you. Maybe not immediately. But if there is any prayer that I know God answers it is, “Lord, help me to really love.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay, you let God use you, but you were in overdrive on this one! Wonderful avoiding theology and self-help formula. And thanks for using 1 Corinthians 13 for what it was written for, not for nice words at weddings only! Anyone who doesn’t love isn’t from God, and not “I’m doing this for own good “love” (that is a smoke screen for abuse)”. The only way I will affirm God at work in me is that I love my enemies more than I used to, and that’s the toughest thing in the world for me…
    I see God in this, and you, and that means a lot to me.


    1. Thank you my friend. I’m not necessarily against theology and self-help, but I would hope the Great Commandment is simple enough for a five year old and deep enough for the eighty-five year old. 🙂


  4. You’ve boiled down spiritual maturity into a single-word definition: love. I doubt anyone could have done it better.

    It was a rude awakening the day I realized that all my “great” efforts were a pile of dung because the only one I loved in all my “doing” – was me.

    The timing of this post could not have been better. Thanks!

    (Oh, and I am really enjoying your podcasts, too.)


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Always appreciate your kind comments. 🙂
      Whenever ministry staff starts complaining about the team members being late or goofy or chatty, I always tell them, “If you don’t love them, it doesn’t matter even if they were perfect.” That’s sort of a Jesus Juke, but it’s true. If we don’t love our church in the mess, it doesn’t matter what else we do.


      1. 🙂

        It’s neat, because this is the topic of this week’s posts on my blog, too. It encouraging when we echo one another – for then we know we’re on God’s “page!”

        Alas, I have much growth yet to come in this area.

        Have a blessed day.



  5. Perhaps we add on all these “spiritual practices” because loving God and others sounds too simple. But it’s not simple at all, is it? Not when we actually focus our efforts on it..Loving even God is difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It will always be difficult, yes. Reminds me of a quote by Francis Chan:
      “The fact is, I need God to help me love God. And if I need His help to love Him, a perfect being, I definitely need His help to love other, fault-filled humans.”


  6. We no longer need to impress others because we’re loving them regardless of how they respond. – Love this.
    I am a struggling Christian. A struggling Psychotherapist/Coach, struggling daughter of Buddhists, struggling fiance trying to walk the Christian path and in transitions with most of her friends trading her time on working on what really God wants vs what I want.

    I just created an Instagram with your quote if you don’t mind. I tend to do it for further inspirational sharing.


    1. Hey there dear friend, I’ll be praying for your continued journey. Do you have a link for your Instagram? Would love to check it out and perhaps others would as well!


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