Conclusion to the Marks of Maturity
This brings us to the conclusion to this study on maturity. The seventeen qualities of maturity discussed in this series by no means exhaust the qualities that mark out a mature Christian. For instance, I have not attempted to deal with all the qualities required of overseers and deacons mentioned in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 or of one’s ability to take in solid food as stressed in Hebrew 5:12-14. And certainly, there are more qualities that could be added. It is my prayer that these marks of maturity are seen as nothing less than growth in the character of the mature qualities of Christ’s life as He is revealed to us in the pages of the New Testament. They are the experience of the Christ-exchanged life. As Christ is the Spirit of prophecy and the central theme of the Bible, so He is our life and so also He is our goal and the means of attaining that goal as we learn to appropriate His life (the fundamental issue of maturity) through the enabling ministry of the Holy Spirit and the life-strengthening power of God’s Holy Word. We are not just seeking to become moral by our own strength or determination. Rather, the goal is spiritual change through biblical spirituality with an emphasis on biblical.167 This was stressed in the introduction under the heading, The Nature of Maturity as the Product of Spirituality. But by spirituality, I am not referring to the so-called relative spirituality of the New Age movement or of some form of mysticism.
Further, as mentioned in the beginning of this series, it is my hope that those who have taken the time to read through this study, or even parts of it, will see these marks of maturity as goals or targets to aim for and as marks of identification and confirmation that make us examples of the Lord Jesus that we might flesh out His life to a dying and hurting world. The pursuit of these marks is the quest for the character of Christ. This is a world that needs to see an authentic picture of the real thing in those who are also able to give a reason for the hope that is in them. In this way our lives back up what is said from our lips.
But may we all the while realize there will always be room for growth and greater levels of development and experience of these qualities of the Savior’s life. Of course, we all fail in many ways and fall short of what we should be, but may this not discourage us. Rather, may our failure become a strong motivation, not to give up, but to press on while thanking God for His matchless grace and forgiveness in the person and work of His Blessed Son. May our failures simply renew our awareness of our desperate need of the saving grace of the Lord.
Not that I have already attained this—that is, I have not already been perfected—but I strive to lay hold of that for which I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: forgetting the things behind and reaching out for the things ahead, 14 with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view. If you think otherwise, God will reveal to you the error of your ways. 16 Nevertheless, let us live up to the standard that we have already attained (Phil. 3:12-16).
167 For a detailed study of biblical spirituality, see The ABCs of Christian Growth, Laying the Foundation on our web site at www.bible.org/docs/splife/abc/toc.htm.