I've talked about this with a few you, but it keeps running through my head so I thought it was worth posting.
How do we judge spiritual maturity? Here are two ways that aren't so good, followed by a better way.
Knowledge-based maturity. This is the idea that the more you know about Jesus, God and the Bible, the more spiritually mature you are. What's the problem with it? James 2:19 tells us that even Demons believe in God. First Corinthians 8:1 reminds us that knowledge makes us feel important, but love is what actual strengthens the church. Knowledge-based maturity is everywhere in American Christianity. The point of most teachings and sermons is to get you to know something you didn't, with the hope that you'll understand it, therefore making you more mature. There's a thread of truth here, because we are called to know and understand our great God, but if it only stops with mental knowledge then we've missed the point.
Service-based maturity. This one is sneaky. It says the more you serve both in and and outside of the church, the more spiritually mature you are. The problem is that you can serve with poor motives. You can serve well in one are of your life and ignore some major sin issues in other areas. (Does it matter how faithfully you usher every Sunday morning if you don't love your wife as God calls you to?) Again, the truth is that God often calls us to sacrificial service of others, but the point is not the service as much as it is obeying God's call. (oops, tipped my hand.)
Obedience-based maturity. Answer this: What has God called you to do and are you doing it? God might be calling you to learn more and He might be calling you to serve more, but the point is obeying God's call. Who are Jesus' friends? Those who do what he commands (John 15:14).
What's the point? I alluded to it earlier. Most everything in American Christianity misses obedience-based maturity. When's the last time you were asked (after any sort of workshop or sermon or teaching): What are you going to do with what you learned? Even better, when was their follow-up to see if you actually kept your word?
Mature disciples obey Jesus. Looks like we all have a long way to go.