Summary: The key to spiritual maturity is knowing and walking with Jesus.

1. Darwin Awards

There is a book of the Darwin Awards. These are awards that are issued every year to the people who do the "stupidest stuff" which results in their own death. In the chapter called, "Macho Men" are three examples:

* There was the story about Larry and his friend Joseph who just last year decided to re-enact the William Tell scene where William shoots an apple off his son's head. But instead of an apple, they used a beer can. Larry put it on his head and Joseph shot. Unfortunately he was no William Tell and he killed his lifelong friend.

* Then there was Ken who in 1997 was bitten by a cobra belonging to his friend. He refused to go to a hospital, though, saying, "I'm a man, I can handle it." Well he couldn't. He died a few hours later.

* Oh yes, and then there was the story about James who in 1995 couldn't figure out what was causing the strange noise under his truck, so he asked a friend to drive the truck while he hung underneath. Unfortunately, James' clothing got caught in the drive shaft and, well, you can figure out the rest.

It would still be tragic, but it would be more understandable if these foolish decisions were made by teenagers. But all of the above examples involved grown men, serving as proof that age alone is not a guarantee of maturity.

Maturity can best be defined as the ability to make wise choices. It's sad to see an adult with years of experience making immature decisions. It's even sadder in the spiritual realm.

The writers of the New Testament make it clear that we are expected to grow, to mature, as Christians. We come up out of the waters of baptism a new creation, a babe in Christ. It's exciting to experience that new birth. But if, after years in the church, one still has the qualities of a newborn Christian, there is a definite problem.

2. Lack of Maturity can be dangerous -- even in (or maybe especially in) our walk with God

a. We might gain a satisfaction that keeps us from growing deeper in our faith

b. The writer of Hebrews addressed this very issue with his readers:

"We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." Hebrews 5:11-14

c. We might not distinguish between good and evil; good and better

3. Colossians 1.24-2.5

I. Evidences of Spiritual Maturity -- The What (2.2) [3x]

A. Encouragement

1. Bird Dog (Bits & Pieces, August 20, 1992, pp. 15-16)

During quail season in Georgia, an Atlanta journalist met an old farmer hunting with an ancient pointer at his side. Twice the dog hobbled ahead and pointed. Twice his master fired into the open air. When the journalist saw no birds rise, he asked the farmer for an explanation.

"Well," grinned the old man, "I knew there weren't no birds in that grass. Spot's nose ain't what it used to be. But him and me have had some wonderful times together. He's still doing the best he can--and it'd be mighty mean of me to call him a liar at this stage of the game!"

2. Encouragement = "With heart" -- the idea of bringing out the best in others; Barnabas

B. Endearment

1. Super Glue

Where can you find the strongest glue in the world? Not in a store or factory. Dive into the ocean instead and take a look at barnacles and mussels, which fasten themselves to boats, piers, and rocks. Many shellfish secrete a protein that allows them to firmly cling to any surface, even in salt water. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are currently studying shellfish in an attempt to develop a stronger kind of waterproof glue that can be used in ship repair and even with surgical incisions.

For an even stronger kind of glue, dive into the Bible and study the subject of love. The apostle Paul said that nothing can separate us from God's love and that God has shed abroad His love in our hearts (Romans 8:39; 5:5). According to Colossians 2:2, our hearts are "knit together in love."

Although the Church is made up of people from all walks of life, our love of Christ must unite us. That means we must exercise patience, meet needs, and put the interests of others first. Loving others is the opposite of being selfish.

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