There are several indications of spiritual growth and development in a person’s life. For example, a person is known to be growing in their faith whenever they desire to read God’s Word and memorize scripture. Perhaps the fruit of their spiritual growth is the priority of prayer, longing to speak to and hear from God. Yet another example is church attendance; not for the purpose of “checking a box” but for the purpose of growing further in love with Christ by way of education, singing worship, and accountability.
In my humble opinion, one of the greatest markers of spiritual maturity, is a Christ-follower’s perspective change. To be completely honest, this is the maturity-ruler with which I most often strive to measure myself. One of the best biblical explanations of this truth comes from Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18. In this massive, beautiful passage, but I want to point out simply, Paul describes more than one perspective change for the Christ-follower.
Salvation. Being blindfolded is typically unforgettable. One of my (now) favorite memories of the experience was at youth camp. My best friend attended Grand Avenue Baptist in Fort Smith and each summer they always had an awesome spiritual and social youth camp experience. Any first-time campers experienced a time-honored tradition, a right-of-passage. To a junior high guy like me, it was very intense. I had no clue what was going on, I couldn’t see what was happening. Clearly, I won’t give away the years’ worth of secrecy. The last thing I would want to have happen is a revoking of my membership in the Ooga Booga Society.
Paul attempts to capture an experience similar to this at the point of salvation. Whether God’s created man realizes it or not, without the experience of salvation mankind is living life physically and spiritually blind. Blind to real truth. Blind to genuine love. Blind to sincere hope. But salvation changes that. Radically, eternally, changes that. The Spirit of the Lord brings freedom from the blindfolded-experience.
My hope is that if you have not put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior you would do so – contact a friend, pastor, or shoot me an email. If you are reading this today and have a relationship with Him, your veil has been removed, that you would celebrate His sovereign grace towards you!
Maturation. If you are the theological type, have likely have already made up your mind, “What Stephen actually means is ‘sanctification’.” Well, yes and no. I submit to you, sanctification is more all-encompassing than exactly what I am writing about today. I encourage you to read David Mathis’s short article elaborating on John Piper’s explanation, here: Sanctification, So Why the Long Word?
What I ask you to consider is how God the Father uses any and every life experience we have to grow us in Christ-likeness. This growth is God’s plan to make us more spiritually mature. At the root of this growth is a perspective change on those life experiences. Simply put, if you want a litmus test of a person’s spiritual maturity, ask them the simple question, “Why do you think this is happening/did happen to you?” In seasons past I would celebrate or grumble based on how the experience made me feel. Now? My hope is with each life experience I stop to first worship God, then second to exchange my emotions for His wisdom. As we behold the glory of the Lord, we should be transformed. This perspective of who God is and who we are, then transforms us into a deeper understanding and experience of God’s glory.
So, during the next life experience, major or minor, ask yourself, “Why do I think this is happening to me?” Your airline ticket is upgraded to First Class. Your kid barfs on your iPhone. You see a beautiful sunset, or your plans get rained-out. No matter the experience, a healthy perspective of who God is and who you are will increase your spiritual maturity and deepen your understanding of His glory. Once the veil is lifted, seek God with an unveiled face that exchanges your emotions for His wisdom. Exchange your self-centeredness for His glory.