Summary: How to become a mature Christian.
Christian maturity. Philippians 3:12-16 WBC 5 Mar 06pm
V15 "all of us who are mature should take such a view"
- but - what is maturity? "Christian maturity?" Am I mature? Are you?
Well- elsewhere there are all kinds of definitions of maturity
- Educationally: "gratification deferment". Being able to work longer without reward for a reward. Your gratification (sense of pleasure) is deferred
o Certainly a good one. When you are young as a Christian you expect God to move the world around you each day!
o Later you realise God wants you to move the world, and it can be hard work!...and you have to wait and work
- Dictionary definition: "complete in natural development with fully developed powers of body and mind" (and I’d add- Spirit)
o Are you a ’rounded’ Christian? Mature in all these areas
- 1 Cor 2:6 speaks of maturity being recognising God’s ways in the world- and them being different to the ways of the world
- Eph 4:13 speaks of maturity being seen in service, and not being tossed too and fro by all the latest fads
- In Eph 5:11 it’s knowing the whole of the word, not just the easy bits… and being able to distinguish good from evil
… all of these are true. (and a challenge!)
But THIS shows a different aspect of what "maturity" is- and I’ve had my understanding of this passage turned on its head as I’ve prepared
- the word of God! Sharper than any two edged sword
I always thought it was emphasising - maturity is knowing folks think differently… and that’s okay. God will confirm that’s okay (v15-16)
- and of course, there is some truth in that
- But that’s not what he’s saying, here!
- Here he’s saying "all of us who are mature should take such a view"- what view?!!
MATURITY IS KNOWING YOU HAVEN’T ARRIVED
… aren’t mature… ’perfect’ yet. "Not that I have already been made perfect (v12)
You see- there were obviously some in the church that had been teaching "Christian perfectionism"
- that once you have ’made your commitment, you have arrived’
- Or that, as a Christian, you can be perfect this side of eternity
o In fact- Paul plays on the word ’perfect’, here.
" V12 not that I have been made ’teleos’ (lit ’end’). v15 all of us who are ’teleioi’ - perfect/mature should take such a view (that we’re not teleos!)
Since Paul has just nailed his colours to the mast about how he wants to be a go-for it, hot-shot, Christian (v7-11)
- he needs to clarify that this doesn’t mean he thinks he’s arrived…got it all sussed… is teleos… lest they think he is preaching a perfectionism that is unobtainable
- and he actually goes as far as saying ’all of us who are ’mature’ (perfect!) should take this view. And if you think differently- that maturity is being perfect, not sinning… always understanding- God will make my view clear to you! He’ll correct you!
So- why does this matter to us? We know we’re not perfect, eh?
- in OUR Christian culture the emphasis is far more on grace than holiness… so few are in danger of thinking ’I’ve reached it! No sin today… this week…. Sussed it!’
It matters hugely. In the early days of Christian life the joy, experience, power, even, of it all can enable you to walk on water
- but after a while…. a ’nannying’ period, God says ’it’s time to grow up’
o it’s time to face some character flaws
" (Billy G: becoming a Christian is not the end to your problems- it’s the start of facing up to them!_
o it’s time to face the pain and sin of the world
o it’s time to grow in sanctification, holiness… working out your salvation as God works in you
o it’s time to change yourself…and this world
…and you can loose heart. Become discouraged. Think "where is that honeymoon?", "if only I were like I was then" and "have I lost it?"
- some will even tell you that you have! See it as negative
- But Paul tells us- maturity is accompanied…shown even!... by a growing awareness that there is more to do! Of how short we fall
o It’s a positive thing! It’s a sign of growth
o Take heart! Only the immature live in rose gardens
" The mature live in the desert… fire… real world where faith is forged and character grown
" Paul knows this
Isn’t that a relief? It should be!
- it means you are growing.
- Illustr: PPT A circle of knowledge/holiness. But as that circle grows, its circumference… the surface that impacts/touches on those ’unsorted’/’unknown’ areas grows!
o And because you are mature(-ing) and self-aware you FEEL that