How can we know that we have progressed from spiritual infancy into maturity? In simple terms, love provides the primary answer. Are we God and others-centered? Or do the realities of our personal lives, needs, and desires constantly occupy our thoughts and attention?
"Charity (love) seeketh not her own" (I Corinthians 13:4; 5).
Of course, even the most mature Christian faces frequent temptation to self-centeredness. While never inevitable, excusable, or necessary, they sometimes falter because believers will be susceptible to temptation throughout our earthly lifetime. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8). The mature Christian nevertheless consistently and increasingly realizes that life constitutes not a black hole of self absorption, but rather a shining star of radiating light that illuminates, warms, and blesses others through the indwelling Spirit of the God who "is love" (I John 4:8). Indeed, those who long walk with the Lord in sincerity and truth find their hearts turned inside out in the realization that blessedness sought for others fulfills the heart of those who, like the Lord Jesus, seek "not to be ministered unto, but to minister" (Matthew 20:28).
The spiritual babe, regardless of how long he or she may have known the Lord, processes life in terms of the unholy trinity of "I, Me, and My." Just as earthly babies respond to conditions, circumstances, and situations in self-centeredness, the spiritual infant smiles and laughs or mourns and moans in response to pleasing or disturbing realities. He does not know God and Truth well enough in heart to overcome the challenges foisted by the world, the flesh, and the devil, challenges that tempt us to walk in the darkness of "I, Me, and My" rather than the light of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The book of Hebrews was written to spiritual babies who should have been mature adults (Hebrews 5:12). Its primary message calls us to "look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross", and to "consider Him, who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself" (Hebrews 12:2-3). Such a gaze consistently directed Christward changes our hearts, minds, hands, and feet, delivering us from existing as a black hole to vibrantly shining as a bright and glorious star of love. This is God's purpose for each of us, that we grow, develop, and mature in the unselfish character of Christ revealed to us, in us, and ultimately through us for the glory of God.
"Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor."
Weekly Memory Verse
I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised. So shall I be saved from my enemies.
(II Samuel 22:4)