10 MARKS OF AN IMMATURE BELIEVER
Hanging from that random tree seemed like a really good idea at the time. I was in eighth grade and our youth group (I don’t think I was actually a Christian at the time) was going through the community singing Christmas carols. I thought it’d be really funny to climb a tree and show off my sweet monkey skills.
Then we got back to the church. I realized my idea wasn’t such a good idea anymore when the youth leader—who I had a great deal of respect for—called me out in front of everyone. He informed me, and everyone else, that I was being observed by the sweet old lady who owned the tree. She was appalled. And I wasn’t representing Jesus well to her. I was acting like an immature little kid.
I was mortified. But it got my attention. I realized that I needed to grow up.
You can decide on your own if that youth leader was correct for calling me out in front of everyone. And those of you who know me in person might wonder if I’ve matured that much since my tree-climbing days. I’m sharing that story today to say that sometimes someone pointing out our immaturity is a great grace in our life. The Spirit uses it as a wake-up call to drive us closer to Christ and desperate for growth. When we realize we are being tossed to and fro we become hungry for the anchor that is maturity in Christ.
In his little book, Grace: The Truth, Growth, and Different Degrees, Christopher Love, gives ten marks of an immature believer. He does this not to shame but in order to spur on towards growth in Christ. I’ve updated and summarized these. I’ve also put them into a Jeff Foxworthy-esque “You Might Be A…” format.
You might be an immature Christian if…
1. You rest too much on your observance of Christian duties (ex: Bible reading, prayer, etc.). “As it is a sign of an apostate professor to call of duty, so it is also a note of a young and weak professor to rest too much upon his duties.”
2. You aren’t able to see the faults in your successes. “A weak Christian does not have clear insight into the close and spiritual failing which cleave to his performances.”
3. You focus your attention on matters of indifference. “Not to know our liberty, and to abuse our liberty, is an argument we have but little grace. Young converts call more things sins than ever God did”.
4. You neglect your worldly callings. This would be like the Thessalonians who stopped being a working part of society as the waited upon the Second Coming. Neglecting your family, your job, etc. at the expense of “spiritual things” is actually a mark of immaturity.
5. You are a respecter of persons. Putting yourself into factions and following men. “To idolize some, and to despise others, argues that you are in weak faith.”
6. You are easily led away into error and various fads. “Weakness of head argues that grace is not very strong in your heart.”
7. You are content with the elementary aspects of the faith. Having an unwillingness to “further search into the depths and mysteries of religion” is a mark of immaturity.
8. You are strong in emotion but not grounded in truth. The Puritans called this having heat without light. “There are many Christians who have much zeal and affection, but are not solid in their judgment”.
9. You cannot stand to be argued with or rebuked. “A sharp reproof will discover whether you are of a weak spiritual temper and constitution.” If you cannot handle criticism it is a sign of immaturity.
10. You trust God for your soul but not your every day life. “There are those who dare trust God for heaven, and yet do not trust Him for earth, but these are of little faith.”
Christopher Love closes out his sermon by encouraging the immature believers in his congregation. When some of these hit home listen to what Love says:
Be not then discouraged, you who discern in yourselves but small measures of grace; look on your wants and imperfections so as to grow in grace, and not to be content with any measure, but look not on the small beginning in grace as discouragement to you. When you see a great oak in a field, you may say this great tree was once but a small acorn…Grace, where it is true, will be growing.
If you find that some of these fit, don’t give up but cry out to the Lord for more grace to continually be transformed into the image of Christ.