This is the time of year when “harvest” is an important word, whether we live on a farm or in the city. Everyone enjoys the fresh fruits and vegetables that show up in farmer’s markets or in the produce aisle of the grocery store. Yum!
But have you given thought to what stage the harvest of your spiritual life is in? Once a person chooses to become a follower (disciple) of Jesus Christ, a new life begins. The “seed” of the Gospel has been planted and taken root. What follows should be growth toward spiritual maturity, just as the seed in the farmer’s field sprouts and breaks through the soil with new growth, hopefully resulting in fruitfulness.
The simplest definition of spiritual maturity is becoming more like Jesus Christ in character, thinking, and choices. It is a growth process which comes through a work of the Holy Spirit by God’s grace (I Corinthians 2:13). As much as we find infants endearing and precious, we know it is natural and necessary for them to grow up. We would never choose for our child or grandchild to have stunted physical or emotional growth. In the same way, God never meant for His children to remain spiritual “babies” but, rather, to experience a slow but steady growth in their knowledge and relationship with Him.
Spiritual maturity is not necessarily equivalent to chronological adulthood. So, if not the passage of time, what is the “fertilizer” for this spiritual growth? It begins with a renewed mind, the “mind of Christ” described in I Corinthians 2:16, which comes from a study of God’s Word. To know and understand biblical truth is the essential starting place which produces a love for God followed by obedience to Him. Reading the Bible along with life applications, prayer, worship, fellowship, and service are all part of the lifelong process of making us more Christ-like. Consistency in these spiritual disciplines fosters mature thinking (I Corinthians 14:20) as childishness is left behind. That journey ends in heaven when we will be made perfect and complete as we are face-to-face with our Savior and Lord (I John 3:2).
What are indicators of spiritual maturity? An ever-growing increase in the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-23 is a sign of the harvest. The maturational process on the inside is revealed by increasing characteristics of God on the outside! If we keep setting our minds on things above (Colossians 3:2) with the end goal of reflecting the nature of Jesus Christ, God will produce spiritual growth as we love, obey, and learn to please Him.
We have a choice of fostering or inhibiting the development of spiritual maturity in others around us by our example. Ephesians 5:1-2 exhorts us to “be imitators of God, as beloved children” and to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.” As we imitate Christ with a willingness to live a life of loving sacrifice for others, it is an opportunity to influence our children and grandchildren to live that way as well. As we lovingly admonish (correct) and teach biblical truths with wisdom, we increase the potential of their spiritual growth and maturity (Colossians 1:28). Jesus is our example, described in Luke 2:40b, “The child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on Him.”
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, would You pour out Your grace so that we, our children, and grandchildren follow Your example of growing strong bodies, wise spirits, and have a harvest of spiritual maturity. Amen.