I want to see all believers move from being new Christians to being mature believers. Most of the time we define mature believers with the usual standards such as Church attendance, Bible knowledge, prayer time, service and giving. I still believe those are good ways to start measuring growth but I want to suggest to you five other possible signs.
1. You Have Made Hundreds of Mistakes
A mature believer is not perfect, they are just forgiven, over and over again. Their maturity has come from falling to sin, making stupid mistakes, lacking faith at times and then getting up again. I think of the Apostle Peter who frequently put his foot in his mouth. He would deny knowing Jesus, but would also preach the first Christian sermon at Pentecost. Failure is only bad when you do not learn from it.
2. You Know to Not Take Stories at Face Value
Often when we fail we create a story to make it not seem that bad. We try to tell of our failures in a way that paints us in the best possible light. We know this is true of ourselves and eventually we learn that it is true for everyone. Therefore, because of our mistakes, we have learned the truth about other people. We know that other people are struggling with issues greater than they will ever tell us.
3. You Can Accept the Truth Without Shock
I often wonder if Jesus was surprised when a tax collector, prostitute or sinner confessed their sins to him. Did he stare at them in shock and amazement? I highly doubt it. He knew the complete foolishness the human heart and mind are cable of doing. Having made numerous mistakes myself and then hearing other people share similar stories, I am rarely shocked by the human depth of depravity. We are all sinners in one crazy way or another.
4. You Are Full of Mercy and Grace
Once you hear those almost unbelievable stories of failure you respond with the love of Jesus. You are not judgmental and mean. You are not shocked or uncomfortable. You are not angry and frustrated. You are full of compassion because you understand that people are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
5. The Longer People Know You the More they Like You
Mature believers are a joy to be around. They are full of truth and grace. Some people can fake concern (usually for selfish gain), but they can only do it for so long. People with a truly deep faith are a joy to have in our lives and they continue that way forever.
The truth is that you need Church attendance, bible reading, prayer, service and giving in order to grow in your faith. The other side of that truth is that those activities should be transforming your character to be more like Jesus. If that is not happening then you are becoming more of a Pharisee than a Christian.