Today’s lesson is from the Book of James and is about spiritual maturity, what it is and how to know when you have it.

In the Book of James the people he was writing to were encountering some personal problems that were spilling over into the church causing even more problems. The major cause of the conflict and trouble was a lack of spiritual maturity on their part that James was addressing.

As a pastor, I have discovered that in most cases of conflict or trouble in the church comes as a result of spiritual immaturity on our part. We get ourselves into all kinds of trouble by:
  • Saying immature things
  • Making immature decisions
  • Acting in an immature way

Growing up and maturing spiritually is not an option with God. In fact, it is God’s will for every believer to grow and mature in order to become more like the Lord Jesus Christ. 

According to Ephesians 4: 11-14 the purpose of the church is to help Christians grow and mature. “And He gave some apostles and some prophets and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the perfecting (maturing) of the saints, for the work till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the structure of the fullness of Christ that we should henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”

The reason God gave these gifted people to the church was to bring the church to maturity then and now.

God’s Standard of Measurement
We can measure spiritual maturity by comparing ourselves to the Word of God, not comparing ourselves with other people As one travels over the roads and interstate highways, there are signs that let us know whether we are traveling in the right direction and how close or far away we are to or from our destination. The Book of James is a manual on maturity. The word “mature” in the Greek is “teleaos” and is translated – mature, complete or perfect. James uses this word five times in the five chapters James is a manual on how to grow-up and be mature. James gives us five signs of maturity that we will be looking at.

In Washington D.C. there is a building called the National Institute of Standards and Technology of weights and measurements. They have what are called prototypes of pound weights and kilograms, measuring rods for feet, yards and metric measurement of a meter or weight of a kilogram. They turn to this facility to get a correct answer. It never changes. We Christians have a measuring tool that never changes.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us:“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect (mature) thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 

The measuring tool of God:

  • Teaches me – it gives me correct information
  • Rebukes me – repairs my wrong way of thinking
  • Corrects me – corrects my character flaws
  • Trains me in righteousness – trains me to be ready to make right choices and decisions.

The Signs of a Mature Person as Given in James

James 1:2-4, “My brethern, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work so that you may be perfect and entire wanting nothing.”

Another translation records verse 4 as “so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

How do you handle trials? The first test of maturity is how does one reacts to problems. Do they blow you away? Do you get nervous, uptight, negative? Do you grumble and gripe? How do you handle problems?

Christianity is a life, it is not a religion. It’s having a living relationship with the Lord Jesus. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life.” Life means problems and part of life means solving problems and facing them with the right attitude.

What is your natural attitude? When things don’t go right and you’re irritated, are you negative or positive? Are you basically a supportive person or are you a skeptical person? Are you affirmative or are you angry most of the time? Are you filled with gratitude or grumbling? Are you positive under pressure? Mature people are positive.

A mature person is a sensitive person to others. They just don’t see their own needs, but they see other people’s need too. They understand the hurts of others. Immature people don’t care about anybody else most of the time.

In James 2: 1-6 James gets very specific.

  • Don’t show favoritism
  • Don’t be a snob
  • Don’t judge by appearance
  • Don’t look down on people
  • Don’t insult people
  • Don’t exploit people

Paul said ( I will paraphrase it) – I may win all kinds of people to the Lord. I may build a great church building. I may be on television. I may give my money to the poor, but if I don’t have love I’m as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. It just doesn’t amount to much.

A Mature Person Has Mastered the Mouth
James 3:2, “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man and able also to bridle the whole body.,” James is saying that the mature person is one who has their tongue under self control. The first thing a doctor will say when you go for a check-up is “stick out your tongue.” He uses your tongue to check your health. God does that spiritually too. Self control comes from tongue control. We get ourselves into so much trouble by what we say, what we think and by what we speak. Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any negative talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs.”

  • Watch what you say
  • Don’t just say anything to build yourself up
  • If it doesn’t build a person up – don’t say it.

James 1:26, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

  • If I’m a gossip my religion is worthless
  • If I spread rumors my religion is worthless
  • If I’m always saying things that are not always accurate or I exaggerate or speak impulsively – it’s worthless

So the test of maturity is to manage the mouth so that no corrupt communication or negative talk comes out of it. For us to speak the truth in love means:

  • right attitude
  • right timing
  • right place
  • right location right motive

A Mature Person is a Peacemaker and Not a Trouble Maker
James 4:1, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? James is saying the quarrels and fights in the church comes from the desires that battle within us. He’s talking about conflict, inner quarrels and fights that come from our own inner desires. You quarrel and fight and you do not have because you do not ask God.

Are you a peacemaker or a trouble maker? Do you like to argue? Do you get your feelings hurt easily? Do you get defensive easily? Do you hurt other people’s feelings?

Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers……….

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