For the past few months, I have been charting the efficacy of my exercise program with an electronic scale that sends a low electrical impulse through my body when I stand barefoot upon the scale. Within a few seconds, my weight, body mass index, percentage of body fat, water, muscle mass, and bone mass are displayed. An additional category is my metabolic age. Intrigued, I clicked on the icon and I was pleased to learn that my metabolic age is five years younger than my actual chronological age. Not bad, I thought. My regimen and lifestyle changes are producing positive results. How simple a task it was to measure these objective criteria. Of course, the metabolic age was extrapolated from data culled from thousands of other patients. At best, it was an estimation. To this point, on a day when I gained a pound, my metabolic age increased by a year. The next day, I lost the pound and I miraculously shed a year!
As I thought about this number, I wondered about my spiritual age and maturity? Could it be extrapolated from objective parameters? What about church attendance or participating in Bible studies and small groups? In many Sunday school classrooms, students are encouraged and rewarded for perfect attendance. What about tithing? In some churches, documents and even posters documenting the amounts some of its members have given are proudly displayed. All of these actions are commendable but of questionable relevance to answering the question to what truly makes us spiritually mature? If I missed one Sunday school session or gave a bit less the previous month, do I now regress and become spiritually immature?
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
Only by God’s grace are we saved through faith by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. No good works, no Sunday school attendance, no tithing-nothing except faith can save us. Yet, faith is completed by our works. It is an outward sign of our internal transformation. The great Protestant reformer, John Calvin, eloquently stated, “Faith alone saves but the faith that saves is not alone.”
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead….You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works…
James 2:17 and 22 (ESV)
Our true spiritual age begins when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Our growth and maturity continue as our faith motivates us to respond to the needs of others, sharing the love of Jesus Christ.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
1 John 3:6-7 (ESV)
Jesus Christ gave us the ultimate example of His faith working with His actions. He gave His life to us on our behalf so that all who confess and repent of our sins will have salvation and eternal life. His actions should motivate every believer to sacrifice for others in need. This is the true measure of spiritual age and maturity.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.