Part of preparing ourselves for Christmas means that we are trying to draw ourselves closer to God. We’re positioning ourselves so that God can mold us and shape us more into the person He wants us to be.
As we approach Christmas this year, I started thinking about where I am on the scale of spiritual maturity. I do this NOT as a comparison to anyone else, but relative to where God wants ME to be.
I don’t know if I’ve ever really thought about levels of maturity in following Jesus. It could be helpful to define them and develop a scale like Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, etc. My guess is that such a scale would look a lot like a ladder, and we’d begin to use it to rank (and out-rank) each other. (which would not be the point!) On the other hand, Paul seemed to have some kind of a maturity gauge. Look at what he said to the church he planted in Corinth:
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? (1Cor 3:1-3, NIV)
I guess Level 1 = ‘infant in Christ’!
I don’t know how you read it, but it sounds to me like Paul wasn’t very happy with these folks! He basically called them babies who were still drinking out of a bottle. Not very flattering.
What Paul wanted for them was a love for God that reached towards God!
To help see what that looks like, Read 1 John 4:7-17, which you can do here.
Note what love did to the community that John pastored. Write down some of the specific qualities and results that John points out because the people lived a life of love.
While the church at Corinth was fighting with each other, the community John writes to experienced unity and peace through love.
Love happens when I draw myself closer to God. I get a greater love quotient. I start seeing people more the way He sees them. Somewhere on my hypothetical maturity scale, a growing love has to be a factor. In fact, it’s probably a factor at every level.
So how would you rank yourself, in the normal course of your life, relative to the way you love other people? As John points out: Since God loved us, we should love one another. The question is: Do you?
What are some things you could do or change that will help you love people more or better than you do today?
Pray and ask God to give you a loving perspective towards those you interact with today.