Summary: A lesson on Christian maturity from the believers at Philippi.
Warnings, Exaltations, and Instructions: More Words to Philippi
Philippians 3:15 – 4:1
A group of three to eight year olds were recently asked their opinions on how you know you are grown up and mature. Here are some of their responses.
David, age 7 – When your clothes don’t fit anymore.
Eliot, age 7 - When you go to work, live by yourself, go hunting and fishing by yourself, and are big enough not to get in trouble.
Amanda, age 5 - When I can cross the street by myself and run my own bathwater.
Ronnie, age 8 - When you get scared at night and don’t have to run to mommy’s room.
Kenton, age 5 - When you can cook, work on cars, drive, and have big arms.
Lisa, age 7 - When you are like 30.
Sherri, age 6 - When you start getting old, go to work, and become a mom.
Angie, age 6 - When you can ride a bike with no training wheels and no one has to run beside you.
B.J., age 5 - When you can make little people behave or sit in the corner, or when you can call your friends over to play all by yourself.
Eric, age 5 - When you have wrinkles on your face and look in the mirror and say, “Oh, no!”
What answer do you have for this question? How do you know you are
mature? This morning though, I am not so much concerned about maturity
as these kids were talking about. I am more concerned with our spiritual maturity.
I became concerned recently by a study I was reading. In it, they studied Christians who were in their twenties and Christians in their sixties. After looking at the areas of Biblical knowledge, church involvement, study habits, personal conduct and the like, they concluded two things. Women, showed a slight improvement in maturity from age 20 to age 60, and men showed no growth whatsoever from the time they were 20 to the time they were 60. Do you understand the gravity of this situation? In forty years, men have not grown in their faith at all and women have only grown slightly. We’ve dropped the ball somewhere.
To put this into perspective, I want you to think back to when your kids were in the terrible twos. Now, imagine the nightmare that they acted like this until they were 42 before they grew up. I think you would agree that something was seriously wrong if this was the case, and you would not put up with this. So, why are we content in our faith when the vast majority of people show little to no growth in a 40 year period? It’s not normal, and it wreaks havoc on the church because it leaves a void where leadership once was.
Paul addresses this issue when he speaks to the Philippians in Philippians 3:15 – 4:1. Turn with me there this morning or follow along in your sermon notes.
All of us who are mature should take view of such things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only, let us live up to what we have already attained. Join with others in following my example, brother, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their God is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends.
So, I ask this morning, how mature are you? When I read this passage, I came up with three questions that we can ask ourselves with. Our answers to these questions will test our maturity. I pray that you open up your heart to the Holy Spirit this morning and allow Him to examine our lives and bring conviction in areas we are lacking in. Let’s ask Him to come at this time. Please repeat after me this prayer:
Holy Spirit, I open my heart, to hear, what you have to say. Amen.
Question #1: How do you handle disagreements?
I have a riddle for you this morning. What do you call it when you have 50 people with 50 different opinions? I call it church, and it becomes evident every time there is a congregational meeting. We know that we live in a land of vast colors, religious backgrounds, ancestry, social statuses, education, and the like. Everyone is different, and because of our democracy in the United States, you are entitled to speak your mind no matter what you opinion may be – except in the church. We forget about the fact that everyone comes from a different point of view. We forget that everyone is not a clone of ourselves. I want you to turn to your neighbor. Repeat after me. Praise the Lord – You’re not my clone. Since we are not the same, there are bound to be different points of view on every issue. This will eventually lead to disagreements. The question is not, “How do we avoid disagreements,” but “How should we handle ourselves when disagreements arise.” We should always ask, “How can we discuss this issue without things getting heated, explosive, or bloody.”