We have a beautiful Sugar Maple tree in our backyard. It is the perfect tree– wide and shady. It supports a tree house, zip-line, and swing. While we have lived here for 16 years, the tree was in place long before that.
However, this tree didn’t start like that. It was planted as a young sapling. When saplings are first planted they need a lot of care and support. A careful watch must be kept over the moisture level and protection from pests provided. Supports such as stakes, ropes, and wraps also must be used. But trees mature, they do not stay saplings. The supports will be outgrown and intensive care no longer needed.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose trust is in the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.
Christian maturity is a calling for every Christian. We, like trees, are not meant to stay as saplings, but rather to mature.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the Body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ…
We are to mature in all aspects into the fullness of Jesus. This is a high calling. How are we ever to attain to the fullness of Christ?
As Paul was traveling around during his missionary journeys he gave this encouragement to the leaders of the first century Church in Ephesus.
Now I commend you to God and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
The first century Church was lacking much of what we have today. They didn’t have all the books, sermons, education, or even churches, that we have. What did Paul recommend for their growth and maturity? God and His Word.
In the last days, difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness although they have denied it’s power; avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of truth… evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
2 Timothy 3:1-7, 13
This is a description that fits this time in history well. Sadly, we have become a people who have a form of godliness but deny it’s power. We are lacking in victory over sin, joy, peace, love, thankfulness, and boldness (among other things). We are lacking maturity.
Second Timothy chapter 3 does not end here! In light of these difficult times, this is Paul’s charge to Timothy.
You, however, continue in the things you have learned and have become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Even in the midst of difficult times Timothy had everything he needed to be adequate and equipped for every good work. It was found, not in his surroundings, but in the unchanging Word of God. Just as the Scriptures were able to give Timothy the wisdom that led to saving faith in Christ, they were also able to equip him for every good work.
God has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) This includes spiritual growth and maturity. Everything He calls us to He is completely sufficient for because He is our sufficiency. (2 Corinthians 3:5-6) And in Him we are complete. (Colossians 2:10)
All we need to grow into the fullness of Christian maturity is Jesus. We are filled with His Spirit and we have His Word, that is sufficient.