I am a very goal oriented, task-driven, and perfectionistic person. Maybe you’re like me? I feel the best when I’m “doing”. Checking off the boxes of my to-do list, ending each day full of completed tasks, and a clean house make me feel happy. I feel the most healthy and mature when I can see external proof of progress. While none of these things are inherently bad, in fact, they are all quite good things; they become harmful when this becomes my standard for my health. Especially when we let this mindset bleed into our spiritual health.
While it is convenient to have external proof to show whether we are growing in our maturity in Christ or not, the reality is that external proof is not a biblical standard for maturity. We can be on top of all our spiritual disciplines; reading scripture, attending church, praying, serving our families, loving our friends, and still be spiritual babies in Christ. In this story in John chapter 7, there are TWO aspects of spiritual maturity/immaturity that when applied to our life can help point us back to our true north who is Jesus.
1 - TRUSTING GOD AT HIS WORD
Jesus’ brothers in this story seem like they are trying to help a brother out. They attempt to act as Jesus’ ancient marketing team, knowing that during the feast of booths or otherwise known as the Feast of Tabernacles, if Jesus makes himself known in Jerusalem through performing some outward sign or miracle, he will be able to leverage this heavily populated moment in time for his own glory. He’ll tick all the right boxes in order for the algorithm to give Him the followers and affirmation He truly deserves. But they didn’t want Jesus to do this for His fame. They wanted Him to do this because they didn’t believe Him.
"This does not mean that they did not believe He wrought miracles, but that they had not submitted to His claim to be Messiah.” (Dods)
In this instance, we see a LACK of maturity in Jesus’ brothers because of their inability to simply believe Jesus at His word. They needed the external proof.
2 - WALKING ON GOD’S PATH
We find immaturity in Jesus’ brothers and we find maturity in Jesus. What Jesus models is an ability to walk on the pathway that God presented before Him even if it meant delayed gratification, delayed glory and affirmation from people; even if it led Him to death on a cross.
“They imagined His glory to be limited to demonstrations of His miraculous powers, whereas in reality it could only be supremely displayed by His crucifixion.” (Tasker)
Peter Scazerro in Emotional Healthy Spirituality: Day by Day says, “Jesus had this different vision of maturity: It is the ability and willingness to be led where you would rather not go.”
The point of spiritual maturity is not necessarily to just choose the harder path to take, it’s simply being able to SUBMIT to the path God is setting before us even if that is somewhere we do not want to go.
So here’s my challenge for you today. Instead of attempting to base your spiritual maturity/growth on a list, an amount of devotionals per week, or external behaviors, ask yourself these two questions.
1.) Have I been trusting God at His word this week?
2.) Have I been willing to walk on the path God is setting before me?
If the answer to either one of those questions is no, that’s okay! Repent, choose to place your trust back in God’s perfect plan and timing for your life, asking the Holy Spirit to fill you again, and go!