We can only fully mature in Christ by acknowledging the work that still needs to be done. As we observe the rough edges of our spiritual conditions, we can work with Christ’s power to see progress in the most critical areas of our lives.
There is hope and frustration in the process of growing in Christ. The hope comes from the fact that God does work on us for tangible results. The frustration comes from how long it often takes or how frequently we can take steps back.
The goal is that one day every believer will be presented before God as fully mature in Christ. At that moment, we will not maintain spiritual frailties or behavioral flaws. We will finally be like Him in every way.
Our side of the work is called discipleship; God’s side is called sanctification. He is making us wholly holy. We are doing our part to encourage pious practices and remove sinful habits.
28 We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me.Colossians 1:28-29
So, what is remaining for you to be mature? If you are honest, you have a long way to go. And if you experience success now, you can’t be sure what challenges await you. That’s why discipleship is a lifelong pursuit of gradual maturity. Whenever we discover lacking areas, we should work on them.
I have used these verses to narrow the scope of discipleship for myself and those I disciple. As I proclaim Christ as the hope of glory (delight), I warn myself from trouble areas of sin (disobedience). Using the Scriptures, I teach with all wisdom (doctrine) to bring about real maturity (development). As I labor in these efforts (discipline), I pray for the work that only God can accomplish (dependence).
These categories help provide a process of distinctive discipleship for myself or another. As you look at those areas, where do you most need to grow? Instead of trying to be fully mature by tomorrow, what area could you focus on this week to start putting together a plan to mature?