What is meant by “mature and complete”? (ref. James 1:4)

Mt 18:3-4 Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. This verse wouldn’t seem to be describing maturity or completeness, but it does. It is the very most essential aspect of spiritual maturity. Maturity does not equal independence. You need to be able to play well with others. It is also the nature of spiritual maturity to always show devoted trust and faith to your loving Father like a child does to their own [ideal] loving father.

1 Cor 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. In this passage Paul is speaking of childishness, not the characteristics of being childlike. “Childish” and “childlike” are utterly different concepts. When we first believe we are spiritual newborns, thus in our faith we are childlike. As our spirituality matures, we grow in faith and wisdom but should never loose the essential qualities of the the childlike love and trust. We should, however, grow in faith through experience and learning. As a result our walk will transform from carnal to spiritual. The Spirit may indwell in a moment, but it takes time for us to bare its fruit and grow.

1 Pe 2:2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation — This verse talks of craving milk as a newborn (new convert). Peter isn’t saying we should stay like new converts. He’s really saying just the opposite. Conversion is only the starting point. For those who follow Christ, the cross is where is where our walk begins.

Heb 5:11-14 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Just as your flesh matures, your spirituality is expected to mature. Be mature so you can tell good from evil. If you can do that, it is much easier to endure the pushing of the world and remain standing. When you mature the opportunities for doubt diminish and you are less likely to be blown about.

This post is an excerpt (Question 4.7) from my book Ask James one.

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About Lance Ponder

Christian author of "Ask James one"; public speaker; husband and father. Available to speak on Creation and the Gospel.
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