In his peculiar short story, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald supplies a disturbingly fresh look at maturity and social development. What is so curious about Benjamin, is that he is born old, and with the passing of time, becomes young. The novella is a fascinating take on how people mature, love, and grow up, and the ironic infantile state of the infirm elderly. It also teaches us something about cultivating spiritual maturity.
Sometimes in the church, we encounter the curious case of the well-churched immature believer. Often we find that when a person is a baby believer, freshly saved from their sins, their formerly lackluster life suddenly morphs into an Incredible Hulk of untamed enthusiasm. They evangelize zealously, pray constantly, read their Bible devotedly, and enjoy serving in the church.
But sadly, it is not uncommon to witness that this verve is but a fleeting sugar rush of novelty. The preciousness of salvation begins to grow commonplace, church becomes a routine, Bible reading a chore, and prayer incidental. Sermons they used to relish are now a bland plate of brussel sprouts. As the years grind on, they dutifully trudge through the motions of spirituality, but the light flickered out years ago.
I have met folks in the church who would say they have been saved for decades, but are petty, grumbling, selfish, and pessimistic. They are spiritually grumpy old men.
How about you? Have you grown immature with age? Have you let the furnace of passion from your conversion grow cold? Or have you steadily grown in your knowledge, wisdom, and most importantly application of God’s word, cultivating spiritual maturity?
Cultivating Spiritual Maturity
If not, here are three actions to take to cultivate spiritual maturity.
1. Swallow Your Food
A toddler submissively being spoon-fed his peas by a diligent mom will grow to be healthy. But if the kid stores those peas in his bulging cheeks instead of swallowing, or surreptitiously hands the mush to his canine accomplice under the table, the nutrition can’t take effect. In the same way, people sitting attentively in pews may look like they are being fed a healthy mouthful of expository spinach and beans, but if there is no application to their lives, they will lose vibrancy in their walk with the Lord, and slowly waste away into chronic spiritual anorexia.
How often have you heard a person boast, “I read my Bible every day,” but have obviously neglected to apply any of the verses on boasting about it? This is how pastors fall into the same sin they preach against. It is how parents devolve into what Synge called plaster saints, hollow and fake. And it is why children who were cherubs in church become ogres in college. They are all hearers of the word, but not doers (James 1:22). They are like a disheveled bride who looked in the mirror before walking up the aisle, but then forgot what she looked like, and did nothing about her crooked veil and smudged mascara.