Summary: Overview of the book of James, describing the marks of a mature Christian.
THE MARKS OF A MATURE PERSON
Growing Up Rather Than Giving Up - Part 1 of 15
Overview of James
Without a doubt, probably the number one cause of problems in the world is immaturity. We get ourselves into all kinds of problems by saying immature things, making immature decisions, acting in immature ways. We just need to grow up.
God's will for every person is that they grow. In Hebrews 6:1, "Let us go on to maturity." God says grow up. That's one of the purposes of our church is to help everybody grow spiritually, emotionally, mentally, in every way -- balanced Christian living.
What is maturity? How do know when you have arrived?
WHAT MATURITY IS NOT:
Maturity is not age. It has nothing to do with how long you've lived or how long you've been a Christian. You can be a Christian for fifty years and not be mature. Bumper sticker: "I may be getting older, but I refuse to grow up." I've seen some 50 and 60 year old kids. Maturity has nothing to do with your age. Granted, God's ideal is that as we grow older we get more mature, but that's not always the case.
Maturity is not appearance. Some people just look mature. Some people just look more spiritual than the rest of us. They look kind of dignified, they look like they're holy. For the rest of us it's just tough luck. The fact is, you can look real spiritual and not be spiritual at all. It has nothing to do with your appearance.
Maturity has nothing to do with achievement, what you accomplish. You can accomplish a lot and still be very immature. You don't have to be mature to make millions.
Maturity has nothing to do with academics, how many degrees you've gotten, how much education you've gotten.
God says maturity is attitude. Attitude is what makes the difference. It's your character. D. L. Moody said, "Character is what you are in the dark." Recognition is what people say about you, character is what God says about you. God says it's your attitude that determines whether you're mature or not. God wants you to grow up and have Christ-like attitudes.
How do you measure spiritual maturity? Not by comparing yourself to other people but by comparing yourself to the word of God. In the book of James we have a manual on maturity. The word "mature" in Greek is the word "teleaos" -- it's translated mature, complete, perfect. James uses this word five times in five chapters. James is a manual on how to grow up and be mature. James gives us five marks of maturity.
1. A MATURE PERSON IS POSITIVE UNDER PRESSURE
James 1:2-4 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything."
How do you handle trials? The first test of maturity is how do you react 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's not a religion, it's having a living relationship with the Lord Jesus. Jesus said, "I've 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? your natural bent when things don't go right and you're irritated? Are you negative or are you positive? Are you basically a supportive person or are you a skeptical person? Is your life filled with gratitude or grumbling? Are you affirmative or are you angry most of the time?
James says, "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." Are you positive under pressure?
2. A MATURE PERSON IS SENSITIVE AND LOVING TOWARD OTHER PEOPLE
"If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, `Love your neighbor as yourself' you are doing right." James 2:8
A mature person is sensitive to people. He doesn't just see his own needs, he sees other people's needs. He understands their hurts. He's not just interested in himself. My children, when they're immature, only see themselves, "I want that, I want this, I don't care about anybody else." God says that love, being interested in others, is a mark of maturity.