As a believer sheds their self and moves away from worldly comfort and emotionally based happiness, they enter an environment where the Spirit can grow in them and replace the flesh that has dominated their existence. While growth sounds exciting at its initial thought, it can be very painful as faith becomes the basis for movement and not sight. Not many people have complete trust in many people around them. The concept of being able to completely trust God takes effort. He seeks that all things are for our good as we walk in His will. He does not change and cannot lie. All the truth of His word should become as comforting as a warm blanket on a cold day. Growth as we walk in faith reveals how true this is. Growing in faith is as difficult as it is satisfying to our spirit. As the Holy Spirit matures us we begin to bear its fruit: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23a). Growing in Christ-likeness as we walk in the Spirit allows these qualities to show through in increasing measure. This is one of the ways that we are able to shine the light of God into this darkened world. This growth and maturity is a lifelong process. It is even more satisfying when we get closer to God and our perspective of things change and grow with us. His Word is alive and matures us as its depths are revealed to us. It then becomes clear that the depth of our God is infinite and we can never know enough. We are beginning a lifelong commitment that never decreases in the joy and peace that it provides to us as we go deeper into the arms of our Heavenly Father.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9b-10)
2 Peter 1:7-9
The greatest command of all is love. It is no coincidence that love is the top step in the staircase of spiritual maturity. It is also the culmination of all of the Fruits of the Spirit. The ability to love God with all you are and to love your neighbor as yourself is the evidence of a mature spirit in Christ. God loves all of His creation and a person rotted in Jesus and the word of God should strive to do the same. Unconditional love is a quality that God eternally exemplifies. It is up to the believer to do the same on earth. Possessing an unconditional love not only pours out a Godly love to the world and draws them to Him, it also leaves that person with the joy and peace that comes from being full of Godly love and not the sinful emotions that creep in in the absence of love (anger, jealousy, lust, greed, fear, etc) Evidence of spiritual maturity is the ability to love the darkened world, becoming the light of God that overcomes that darkness.
2 Peter 1:7-9
All of the previous refinement culminates to allow a believer to see through the sinful nature of the world and have a mutual affection for all people. This quality is shown through the person’s ability to forgive and show kindness to people who have hurt them. It’s the way a believer is kind and caring in a way that draws people to them and their way of treating the world around them. God, in His infinite wisdom builds up His faithful with all of the previous qualities to prepare them to represent His on earth just as Jesus did. Each of the step must be taken and a firm stance on each achieved before the next can be ascended toward maturing in spirit. Not taking the time to thoughtfully take each step creates people who tend to fall backward in their walk. Showing God’s affection toward the people He puts in your life is the basic duty of each believer and an amazing way to show people God’s power.
2 Peter 1:7-9
The ability to persevere through the adversity and remain a light source in this dark world can now be added to the wisdom found in God’s viewpoint. You now find a place of godliness. Another way of seeing this is holiness. Taking this step is moving into the holiness God desires for each of us. You have become ‘set apart’ which is the definition of holy. This level of spiritual maturity not only sets you apart from the world but also makes you a source of godliness to those you are making their way up the same staircase. A firm stance on this step allows you to guide the brothers and sisters who might struggle to ascend these steps. You can be a conduit of God’s power to believers and non-believers. The next step is to put this godliness into action as an example of Jesus.
2 Peter 1:7-9
This step involves being able to maintain a foundation founded in the first four steps when adversity comes, as it inevitably will. Being able to fold fast to your faith, live out the goodness of God, continually seek knowledge of God’s will, and control sinfulness; while the world tries to bring you low is where we develop perseverance. People fall to the easiest path. In this case it’s the most comfortable path. It’s the path that soothes their human/sinful nature. When you live in a way that glorifies God you will make these people uncomfortable as their sinfulness becomes evident to them. They are unwilling to seek God for comfort but instead lean on the fading/ lesser comforts of this world. Instead of seeking God’s way they will attack your way. This is where you must resist the pull toward comfort and continue your walk with Christ and toward sanctification. You must persevere in this spiritual battle. (Ephesians 6:12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
2 Peter 1:7-9
It’s through the peace and joy that we learn to control our selfish desires. We can put off our human nature as we seek to represent God and imitate Christ. It’s human nature to seek comfort. We seek comfort through not engaging people we don’t see as worthy. We criticize people who are different to either conform them to our terms of comfort of elevate us above them to an area of comfort. We gather wealth or focus on our jobs over God’s purpose for financial comfort. Developing knowledge and the wisdom that comes with it allow us to control the pull toward comfort and the pull of sin that comes from this fallen world and the deceiver.
2 Peter 1:7-9
Knowledge of God involves more than just who He is but also His will for you and your life. As a believer we are each designated to serve a purpose for a kingdom we can’t fully imagine. We each make up one loop of a carpet of which we cannot fathom the greatness. True knowledge of God shows us that we can never fully know Him. God’s ways are far above man’s. (Isaiah 55:8-9) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Knowledge of God allows us to develop wisdom, which is seeing the world from His point of view. We see all people as His children, and all the world in His care and control. This knowledge replaces fear with joy and peace.
We have a tendency as fallible human beings to view people through a filter of our own life experience. We see people through our strengths. It’s hard to be vulnerable in a world that looks to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8) Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. It may seem dramatic to call the world the devil, but there is no doubt that the traits that exemplify the earth (selfishness, pride, greed, lust, anger, hate, racism, etc.) are representations of sin and thus the deceiver. It is extremely difficult and vitally important that we show compassion and sympathy for individuals as we focus on the fact that our battle is with the spirit and not the flesh. (Ephesians 6:12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but… against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. God has created all people, some to serve as a guide we imitate, some as a guide to show us what not to do, some as an opportunity to ‘come along side’ and grow with. Every person we encounter is an opportunity to learn and grow in relationship with God in the process of sanctification. We cannot allow our life experience and our expectations (of others and for ourselves) interfere in the opportunity to mature, learn, and teach as God places people in our lives daily. How many people can you think of that you have rejected in judgement? Can you look at that person and see what they have taught you without anger in your heart? Can you develop wisdom (viewpoint of God) and love them for what they have taught you? True maturity comes through perseverance in the submission to Jesus. We must thank God that He brings tests to our lives, sometimes in the form of people, to mature us and draw us closer to Him and His purpose for us in His Kingdom.