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Becoming a mature Christian

“We proclaim him by instructing and teaching all people with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ. Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:28-29 NET).

Do we want to be mature as Christians? I believe that is a goal that all Christians desire and should be working towards. But how do we become a mature Christian?

In our physical bodies, we “grow up” and become mature simply by continuing to live. As long as we are eating reasonably healthy food, our bodies will naturally mature into the adult bodies we desired from almost the time we could think – it seems that all children want to be “grownups”.

Emotionally, though, “growing up” takes a bit of training. We don’t naturally grow into adults that think and act with maturity. This requires time and effort, usually on the part of our parents and other teachers and role models, that help to shape us into the type of person we become as we learn from their wisdom.

Becoming mature as a Christian is much the same as growing up emotionally. It isn’t something that happens naturally but something that requires effort on our part. If you remember, the writer of Hebrews talked about Christians who “should in fact be teachers by this time” but needed “someone to teach you the beginning elements of God’s utterances. You have gone back to needing milk, not solid food” (Hebrews 5:12).

Throughout the first chapter of Colossians, Paul makes reference time and again to the need to know God’s word. They had heard and understood the hope they had in heaven and the grace of God from the good news (Colossians 1:5-6). Paul had not ceased praying for them, asking God to “fill you with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects – bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).

How does God fill us with the knowledge of his will? How do we grow in the knowledge of God? Does God in some mysterious way “zap” this knowledge into us? Or does he expect us to actually do something to attain this knowledge?

I once heard a statement which thus far has always proven to be true: “God does not do for people what we can do for ourselves.” Although not a Bible verse, it seems to be true wherever we apply it. We needed forgiveness and could not do it for ourselves, so God provided Jesus. We need food each day but God doesn’t “zap” it onto our plates – he expects us to work, grow the crops, or earn a living so we can purchase what we need. He still provides the food, but we have to do something.

How do we grow in the knowledge of God? We must spend time with God’s word. Reading and studying God’s word should be a daily part of our lives so that we can grow in knowledge of God and of his will. How did Paul present every person mature in Christ? “By instructing and teaching all people with all wisdom” (Colossians 1:28).

If we want some other way to mature as Christians, the Bible knows nothing of it. What God’s word teaches us is that we need to grow in knowledge and we need to apply what we learn to our lives. Then we can develop true wisdom and become a mature Christian.

Readings for next week:
20 June – 1 Peter 2
21 June – 1 Peter 3
22 June – 1 Peter 4-5
23 June – 2 Peter 1-2
24 June – 2 Peter 3

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Jon Galloway

After graduating from Freed-Hardeman College and teaching school for three years, as well as preaching for small congregations in West Tennessee, Jon & Arlene moved back to her home of Glasgow, Scotland. Since 1985 Jon has been involved in evangelistic work in the Glasgow area, currently serving the congregation in East Kilbride. They have three grown children. Besides writing 'Bible Bytes', Jon is also one of the editors of the "Christian Worker," a news magazine for congregations in the UK, and is a teacher and governor for the British Bible School.

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