People don’t have relationships. They are the relationship. The quality of a person’s life is a direct reflection of the quality of their relationships. Conflict is inevitable and how we handle those conflicts will strengthen or weaken our relationships. The ability to function in healthy relationships is predicated on our spiritual maturity as much or more than it is our relational maturity.
Spiritual maturity is not so much about “what we know” as it is “who we become.” It’s about learning to live and love like Jesus. Most people equate spiritual maturity with knowledge of the bible. An understanding of scripture is always a good thing, but spiritual maturity comes from putting that understanding and knowledge to work. So no matter how many verses of the Bible you know and where to find them, – book, chapter, verse – the question remains; are we living out the verses and applying them in our daily walk?
In fact, it is fairly easy to see a person who is maturing in their walk with God because they are living it every day. It’s easy to see God shining through them in how they serve and how they give themselves to further the gospel of Jesus Christ. My guess is that the spiritually mature person is successful in relationships as well. I am not saying that they don’t have some bumps in the road, or some challenges, but overall I believe being mature spiritually translates into being mature in relationships. Let’s look at some benchmarks of spiritual maturity. I won’t comment on the relational side. I want you to decide whether these hallmarks of spiritual maturity that will help our relationship with God would would help or hurt your other relationships.
First, a person who is spiritually mature is positive under pressure. They handle problems well and see them for what they are based on James 1:1-2: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Second, a person who is spiritually mature is sensitive to people. They know how to have empathy, to listen, to find common ground and to have a servant’s mentality. They seek to demonstrate God’s love. Matthew 22:39 says, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Third, a person who is spiritually mature knows how to curb his or her tongue. They know how to control what they say. “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” – James 1:26.
Fourth, a person who is spiritually mature is a peacemaker. They have a calming effect on people. They look for solutions that will mend the relationship and stop the conflict. James 4:1 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” And Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Fifth, a person who is spiritually mature is a person who prays. They talk to God every day. They seek a relationship with Him and help in their daily lives through prayer including our relationships on earth. They depend on God for guidance and wisdom. “…The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
Let me leave you with one more passage of scripture. Hebrews 13:20-21 says, “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
1. What would you say is the number one indicator of a spiritually mature Christian?
2. Do you agree that the mature Christian will also be mature in his or her relationships and be better able to handle and resolve conflict? Why or why not?
3. Do you believe being able to handle pressure would help in your relationships? What about being sensitive to people? Or the ability to control the tongue? Or being a peacemaker? Or praying?
4. What changes would you have to make in your life today in order to grow more spiritually?
5.. Pray and ask God for his guidance on your spiritual journey? Pray about joining a Northstar Group if you haven’t already done so. Pray about joining the church and pray about taking the discipleship classes available at Northstar.