Summary: The life of a faithful Christian is characterized by a constant growth process. When one becomes a Christian they begin a lifelong journey of service to God. This lesson examines this great truth and brings to light what our obligations are in this.
The Full Grown Christian
"Till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:" (ASV)
The life of a faithful Christian is characterized by a constant growth process. When one becomes a Christian they are "born again" (John 3:7, 1 Peter 1:23), and they become a "new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17). This born again new creature is at that point a babe in Christ, (1 Corinthians 3:1). Just like a literal new born baby grows and matures so does the born again spiritual babe in Christ, feeding on spiritual milk of the word that they may grow, (1 Peter 2:2). The goal of every Christian should be to grow up into Christ, the head of the church, (Ephesians 4:15). See also Colossians 1:10, 2 Thessalonians 1:3.
The full grown Christian is identified in scripture by a number of characteristics that when put together cause him or her to stand apart from the world. John wrote in 1 John 2:15-17, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
The goal of every Christian is to strive to live a life as close to Christ as possible, using His life and the lives of the Apostles as our examples (Philippians 3:16-17). Thereby we grow and mature and become who God would have us to be. Shining our light and setting the example for others to see. The remainder of this study is going to focus on a number of the characteristics that all Christians should diligently strive to add to their own lives. This is not an overnight process, but one that requires a lifetime of diligent work and upkeep as the Christian grows and matures spiritually.
First and foremost the full grown Christian is to be characterized by a life of love; To God (Mark 12:30, John 14:15, John 14:23-24); To other Christians, (John 15:11-17); to his fellow man, (Galatians 6:10); and to their enemies, (Matthew 5:44-48). This is not just the feel good, warm and fuzzy kind of love we feel on the inside. This is the self sacrificing "agape" love that is demonstrated by our actions. 1 John 3:16-18 "Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But Whoso hath the world's goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God abide in him? (My) Little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth."
The full-grown Christian is patient: quietly and steadily persevering. James 5:8, "Be Ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord is at hand." See also
Tender Hearted: soft-hearted; sympathetic; Ephesians 4:32, "and be Ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you." See also Luke 1:78, James 5:11. Jesus was tender hearted and we are to follow His example, 1 Peter 2:21, "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example , that you should follow His steps: "
Hospitable; characterized by or betokening warmth and generosity toward guests or strangers. Romans 12:13, "communicating to the necessities of the saints; given to hospitality." See also Hebrews 13:2, 1 Peter 4:8-10.
Not Striving with one another: to contend in opposition or resistance; 2 Timothy 2:24, "And the Lord's servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all, apt to teach, forbearing," See also 1 Corinthians 3:3, 1 Timothy 6:4-6, James 3:14-16.
Not a Brawler: someone who quarrels, squabbles or fights; Titus 3:2-3, "To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers , but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another." (KJV) See also Romans 1:29-30, 2 Corinthians 12:20.
Not a seeker of vain glory: being excessively proud of or concerned about one's own appearance, qualities or achievements; Galatians 5:26, "Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another." See also Luke 14:10-11, James 4:16. Not to be seen of men; Matthew 6:1, "Take heed that Ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else Ye have no reward with your Father who is in heaven." See also John 5:44, John 12:43, Luke 16:15, 2 Corinthians 10:18.