MYTH - SPIRITUAL MATURITY IS MEASURED (ONLY) BY WHAT YOU KNOW
Wrong. Many churches and Christian people base their spiritual maturity only on how well they know the Bible or their denominational doctrine. The ability to debate doctrine is considered by some to be the ultimate proof of spirituality.
Knowledge of the Bible IS ESSENTIAL to spiritual maturity, but it ISN'T the TOTAL MEASURE of it.
THE FACT IS: Spiritual maturity is demonstrated more by ones BEHAVIOR than by BELIEFS. You see, the Christian life ISN'T simply a matter of creeds and convictions, and my beliefs being superior to someone elses beliefs: it also includes CHARACTER and CONDUCT – that is, WHAT I BELIEVE must be BACKED UP by MY BEHAVIOR.
The New Testament repeatedly shows us that our ACTIONS and our ATTITUDES reveal more about our maturity than our creeds or belief systems.
- I Corinthians 8:1b (NIV) "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up"
- James puts it more bluntly . . . . James 3:13 (NKJV) "Who is wise and understanding among you. Let him show by GOOD CONDUCT that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom."
In other words, if someone thinks they "know something" let them prove it by how they "behave."
Some of the meanest, unkind, and intolerant Christians I have ever met, surprisingly, were also a Biblical storehouse of knowledge. I.e., They could quote Bible passages, explain any passage away or defend any passage. They knew their doctrine inside and out; and yet were unloving, self-righteous, and judgmental. For all their knowledge it only made them feel superior over anyone else who believed differently than they did. Again, knowledge needs to be tempered by character.
Some churches are what you might call "classroom churches." Classroom churches tend to be left-brain oriented and focused only on Bible content, but give little emphasis, if any at all, to the believers' emotional, experiential, and relationship development - which should be included.
THE FACT IS: It takes a VARIETY of SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES to produce spiritual maturity and a balanced disciple.
Spiritual growth includes things like:
- Having a heart the longs after God & experiencing heart-felt worship
- Personal holiness
- Building relationships
- Learning how to get along
- Developing discipline
- Using your talents and gifts in service to other people
- Sharing your faith with lost people
All of these things must be experienced IN ADDITION TO Bible study.
Any church that is interested in seeing their people grow must develop a strategy that includes all these experiences: worship, fellowship, Bible study, evangelism, and service. Growing Christians do more than just STUDY the Christian life - they EXPERIENCE it and LIVE it - in character and conduct.
That's how we do it at PCC.