By Melissa Dougherty
We all want to be wise in our spiritual walk. We want to grow and make good choices that are right in the long run. We want to exhibit wisdom in all areas of life and be able to be an example for others. But I find it isn’t always the easy road that gets us there. In my experience, I have witnessed what I would consider very mature Christians who exhibit these qualities. I have also seen others who lack them. I want to share what I believe to be five signs of spiritual maturity. These are areas that I see that are scriptural and can be shown by how some Christians respond to certain situations.
1.) They base their reactions on Scripture and God’s character instead of their feelings and emotions.
The most spiritually mature people I know are usually the most emotionally mature. They base their choices on the wisdom of Scripture, and logic and exhibit fruits of the Spirit in their life, especially the “self-control” part. They take time to assess and evaluate situations and treat others how they want to be treated. They don’t deflect onto others their own issues and are aware of this in their interactions and judgments. They stop and think first before they act. They also tend to have a smart sense of humor and wit without degrading or putting down others. They’re an example of James 1:19, which says to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. They draw from and submit to Scriptural values. This takes over instead of emotions and helps prevent poor decision-making and emotional outbursts. Do you know how there’s an intelligence IQ? Well, there’s also something called “emotional IQ,” and I find that spiritually mature people have a high emotional IQ. Costi Hinn once said, “It is a mark of your maturity and self-control when you can manage your emotions enough to understand someone you differ with.”
2.) They listen more and talk less.
I mentioned James 1:19 before. People living out this scripture tend to be more interested in the person they’re speaking to and don’t get into unnecessary arguments. They’re not easily offended, either. I read a post on social media once that said, “An immature Christian is hard to please and easy to offend.” Luke 6:45 says that a good person brings up good or bad things depending on what’s in their heart. Out of the heart, his mouth speaks. Controlling your mouth has a lot to do with what’s in your heart, especially on social media. Everyone is a hammer looking for a nail. But these people are different. They are the people that are trying to understand before they’re understood. They try to respond to people out of love for others rooted in a love for God. They consider the other person’s perspective, even if they disagree. But they’re not doormats to lousy theology, either. They can navigate and discern what topics to avoid and which to engage in and can have thoughtful discussions without arguing all the time. Proverbs 15:1 says a harsh answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. These people also look to others for spiritual advice and accountability, allowing others to point out their flaws.
3.) They have a sense of humility to them.
They don’t put themselves above others. I’ve learned from watching these people that they’re here to serve, and that’s what ministry is about for them. Not being known or noticed. (Even if they are well known!) They have a healthy sense of confidence, but typically these people look to others. They’re not always doing this to teach them things but instinctively know to ask questions, get to know others, and respect people as being made in the image of God, especially if they disagree with them. They don’t demonize and rebuke everyone and everything they disagree with. They display love as outlined in 1 Corinthians 13. They’re kind, patient, not boastful, lovers of truth, and seek after God’s glory, not their own. In my experience, these Christians don’t just boast that they “have discernment” or “are humble.” They show it. They don’t need praise from people. They do what they do to please God and God alone. They’re just not jerks about it. This is typically displayed in how they treat, talk to, and love others. When they make a bad decision, they have enough wit and humility to know they need to make things right and admit they were wrong. They don’t get super defensive and take steps to change if needed.
4.) They have self-awareness.
A spiritually mature person can read the room and has the insight to know how they sound to other people. They display a careful social balance in their interactions with people. They can hold themselves accountable in conversations and know when they need to step back from any situation and reassess their feelings. They realize they’re representing Jesus and that their actions and words have consequences. More than that, they have enough insight to know how their actions and words affect others. James 3 has a lot to say about controlling our tongue. He compares the tongue to a rudder that controls an entire ship. Verse 5 says the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.” James 1:26 says, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.”
5.) They have healthy boundaries and actual discernment.
Not every whim or feeling is seen as a sign from God or a move of the Holy Spirit, and don’t just take everything they think, feel or hear as the Holy Spirit speaking to them. They also don’t boast about how discerning they are. They just are. They model discernment instead of paranoia. They also don’t brag about how many spiritual experiences they’ve had, how intense they were, or how smart they are. They’re typically the people who enter a conversation thinking they can learn something from another person, even if they know a lot more than they do! That’s not the attitude they take. They also know when to say no and when to say yes. A spiritually mature person knows that “no” can be a very healthy word. They know how to honor God in their time and know their personal limits. They have enough sense to know when to engage in conversation, events, or activities and when they need to back off. In the same way, they also discern when they need to be where God wants them to be. They wait on God in prayer and Scripture reading instead of relying on feelings that change every day.
In short, they exemplify Galatians 5:22-23- “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law.” And as well as Hebrews 3 in regards to holy living.
So by their fruit, you will recognize them.
Recommended resources related to the topic:
Counter Culture Christian: Is There Truth in Religion? (DVD) by Frank Turek
Melissa Dougherty is a Christian Apologist best known for her YouTube channel as an ex-new ager. She has two associate’s degrees, one in Early Childhood Multicultural Education, and the other in Liberal Arts. She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies at Southern Evangelical Seminary.