Creflo Dollar - How To Develop In Spiritual Maturity
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This morning, we will continue in the subject of, "Maturity Through Pressure". And we've been telling you not to be afraid of trouble, don't be afraid of pressure, that we're learning how to trouble our trouble amen. And so today, we're gonna literally start talking about how to develop in spiritual maturity. I think we spent of couple weeks telling you that we need to mature spiritually. But then comes the practical part. What are some things we need to do so we can develop in this maturity and operate here? And there are signs of spiritual maturity. And developing and maturing through pressure is a vital thing in our lives and yet somehow not everything, not all people, not all Christians, but there's a lot of maturity still we need to see in the church. There's a lot of immaturity in the church. You have people who are not even born again that act more mature than some Christians. And I think one of the reasons that we just don't really understand spiritual maturity and what it means.
So let's begin this morning, let's work on a practical definition so you'll understand when I say it's time to mature and that sometimes God allows certain things to happen in our lives and out of those things comes greater maturity, growth, preparation. Most of the time in the New Testament, when you see the word perfection, it's talking about maturity. And so let's, look at that. What does it mean to be mature? Well, it means to be complete, to be complete. It means to be prepared. It means to be ready. A place of maturity, a place where I am complete, I am prepared, I am ready. And when I look at those, I think about this word, "Ripe". You know, is the fruit ripe? Is it ready to be picked? Is it ready to be eaten? And for us as Christians, are we ripe? Have we come to a place where we are ready to be picked? Yeah, everybody wants God to use you, everybody, we all want God to use us, but are you ripe to be used?
It brought to perfection in growth, or to be at the best state. And you ask yourself, have I been brought to that place of perfection or completion in my growth as a Christian? See, you're not growing just because you've been saved a number of years, okay? There're a lot of people that have been saved 20 years but spiritual maturity, they're like babes still. So we have to understand what this maturity is about. It means to come to the best state, and here's my favorite of all these definitions. It means to be fit for use, fit for use, maturity. Are you fit for God to use? Fully qualified by your improvement, mature. Fully Qualified by your improvement.
So as Christians, we should be improving in our character, improving in our love, improving in our relationships, improving with our relationship where God is concerned. There's no such thing as you got born again and then that's it, no, we get born again then we start renewing our mind, and then we start improving, we start improving. You know, a grain, I thought this was interesting, a grain ripens best in dry weather. Grains, ripen best in dry weather. And sometimes, a Christian matures when there's some dry weather in your life. When things aren't going well, when you can't figure out how come that happened, why God let that happen now.
Now you know God's with you, but sometimes you got your faith out there and at the end of it, it doesn't turn out like you expected for it to turn out. And that's when you got to pause, and cry, and do whatever you're gonna do, and when you finish responding out of your humanity, then you're gonna have to recall and say, "But I still trust God". Hallelujah, and there is some growth that takes place when you go through stuff, get your faith out there, and it doesn't happen the way you wanted it to happen. What's going on at that particular time? You're maturing at that particular time. And I wanna make sure I distinguish between the humanity part and the maturity part, and God dealt with me about that even this morning he says, "No, no, son nothing wrong with you there, you're just... that's what humans do". But because you've renewed your mind, you go back to love.
All right, somebody's hurts you, and you're angry, and you're emotional and all that kinda stuff because that's a part of your humanity, that's how you respond to it but after everything's over with, you bounce back and say, "I forgive and I love and I'll do all the things that," that's maturity. Now, before, you wouldn't have bounced back before you would like, "Where my knife at? I bet you won't do it again". That's because there's been no improvement. And I think it's a sad thing for us to be saved for a number of years, and there's no improvement. You ever met somebody like that? You hadn't seen 'em in 20 years and then when you finally see 'em, there's no improvement. That's weird, that feels weird, right? It's like, "You're the exact same, you're the exact same person you were 20 years ago. Get out". "Yeah, can we hook up"? No. Are are you following what I'm saying?
And so, you know, as grain improves during dry weather, I believe we should improve in the middle of all those things not working like we thought it gonna work out. Yeah, you're disappointed and if the truth be told, sometimes you're very disappointed in God. You know, "God, why didn't you do that? Why didn't you do that"? And it becomes more disappointing, when you think you're doing everything you should've did, watch this, to make God do it. And see, that's what I'm saying, we keep going back and forth from understanding the grace to going back to self-reliance. You know, "I did this, I said this, every morning I got up and I prayed an hour in tongues, I said I was healed five times a day, I read all my confessions, I did that and I still didn't get what I expected, God, I'm upset, I ain't gonna have nothing to do with you".
But remember trials, the purpose of a trial is to authenticate your faith. The purpose of a trial, is to check out the genuineness of your faith. Because after you do all of the stuff you say you do, and then you're disappointed with an unexpected outcome, will you still depend on God? Because stuff happens when people come out of a hard time and it didn't work out the way they thought it worked, and they still believe in God. Keep your eye on 'em 'cause God getting ready to do something fantastic in their life. I mean, I'm thinking about Joseph who was you know, he absolutely just, he did what he had to do wherever he was. He made improvement wherever he was. He was the best at where, you know, he was right. He allowed every situation, I mean, you would think the brothers the way they did him and he's in a pit, and then he's a slave in Potiphar's house, then he's imprisoned.
Now in prison, he interprets this guy's dream, and he tells the guy, "Don't forget about me. Don't forget about me, dude, all right, tell him about me". And he forgot about him. Two year, two more years, two more years, and then Pharaoh has a dream and he sells him about him and he comes out. So I'm sure he thought the guy was gonna come back in a couple of days. It was this test to see the genuineness of his faith. You don't see Joseph going around, "I ain't gonna have nothing to do with God no more, I ain't praying no more, I ain't fasting no more, I ain't got nothing to do with God, because he didn't give me what I wanted, like I wanted".
You can't pray the will of God, and then get upset because it didn't come like you wanted and when you wanted. Maturity means ready or fit to be picked for use. Ready or fit to be chosen or to be picked for use. And that's why you should not be taking the same test over and over again, it's time to pass it. It's time to pass that test of the thing that makes you angry all the time. It's time to pass that test of the thing that makes you, you know, you get the cussing all the time. You've been told everybody you're saved, and then that same button it hit and then you he can get you to cuss every single time hit that same button. But maturity means, when that same thing comes around, now, you've improved. And that's why we not wanna judge people so harshly, because there's improvement space.
That's why Christians are not to ever, you know, dog out other Christians, because there's improvement space. And I'm gonna speak faith, "World changers you're improving every day. You're maturing, you're maturing". You don't do what you used to do, you don't respond like you used to respond, you're not cussing folks out, you're not getting, watch this, you're not even getting offended like you used to get offended. Stuff that used to cause you to lose sleep, you sleep like a baby now because you're improving, you're becoming that fruit that's ready to be picked. Mmm-mmm-mmm. So, there is no exception in maturity, no exception granted for you to walk out of love. Why? Because God gave us his love, his supernatural love and it can stand up to anything, it can stand up to any hurt, it can stand up to any pain.
There's no excuse for walking outta love and if you're walking out of love for any reason, that is, I mean, seriously identifying the area of immaturity in your life. You got to learn how to love what's not lovely. I have never thought I would see the day where hate, hate fills the land, that's supposed to be the land of Christians where we send missionaries to other countries and now we need missionaries sent to us. This improvement has got to be an improvement in our love walk because at the end of the day, no matter how many amazing revelations you get from God, if it is not found in improving love, it's a sounding brass or a tinkling symbol, you just make a lot of noise. And that's the thing that I feel like I am supposed to be doing as a leader, is I am supposed to be teaching and growing you up in the love of Jesus Christ.
If I teach anything else to you and fail to teach that characteristic, the love of God, I have failed. We're called to love. And we're called to love not just when it's easy, but we're called to love even in hard spaces, in hard times and we improve in that. We improve in that. We improve in forgiving people. For you not to forgive somebody, it is for you to be a self-righteous person, think you have a right to condemn somebody else when you yourself got your own issues. We can improve in that, we can mature in that. And God's waiting on that maturity, he's waiting on that improvement, he wants to pick you, but you're not ripe yet. So it requires you going through some other stuff to help you to ripen. So when he pick you and uses you, you will provide the necessary nourishment to accomplish his will in somebody else's life. Oh, I'm preaching good this morning, my God.
So let's look at some things that I think will help you out. When we talk about developing spiritual maturity, what we're talking about is, what are some signs, some things that we need to be demonstrating in our lives, as far as developing spiritual immaturity is concerned. Here's the first one we're gonna deal with, and we probably won't get past this today. If you wanna develop in spiritual maturity, then the first thing we gotta do is we got to strive after the standard of Christ. We've got to strive after the standard or the ideal of Christ. It's not all these things we set in a piece of paper to say we do that makes us mature because we can preach better or you know, no, no, no. We're striving after the idea of Christ, we're striving after the standard of Christ. And what happens is, as we begin to go after the standard of Christ to be like him, we find simultaneously we begin to mature into that.
What do I mean? Let's look at 1 I almost talk most of the time from the New Living translation. But look at 1 Peter chapter 2 verses 21, 1 Peter chapter 2 and verse 21 and I really just wanna show you just several scriptures, I just wanna read it to you how it's kinda like that scripture Taffi said, showed us this morning. Some scriptures when you read it, no comment is necessary. It's like, "What I'm I gonna say after that"? Watch this, verse 21. "For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps".
So Christ is my example. First and foremost for Christian people, Christ is our example. And I know you have heroes in life and there's nothing wrong with that. And you can look at some of their stuff, but Christ is your example, and hopefully your heroes are also, you know, following Christ's footsteps as well. I'm not talking about just humanity, I'm talking about humans who have decided, that "I'm a Christian and I'm a follower of Christ," Christ is your example. I don't wanna be your example above Christ, unless my example is in line with his example. Are you following what I'm saying? Christ is my example. Now you'll hear some of these things, just like, "Oh wow, isn't that sad that he actually has to say this in this end time"? It is, but I think Christians need to hear these things.
Sometimes the Bible says, you know, "Be careful that you don't let certain things slip". And we may have let 'em slip, but Christ should be your hero, Christ should be your example in this time, and as Christian people, let's zero back into that. Christ is my example. Say that out loud, "Christ is my example". This is one of those scriptures you read it, you're like, "How am I gonna comment on this"? Philippians chapter 2 verse 3 through 8. Now listen to this. So here's an example, here's what Christ is telling us to do. This is what it means to be ripe, this is when you're ripe and ready to be picked. He says, "Don't be selfish".
What else is he saying? Selfish people aren't ripe to be picked. You've heard the scripture, "Meet for the master's use, fit to be picked and used"? Don't be selfish. So I'm reading this as a Christian, don't be selfish I wanna look at my life and ask myself often, "Am I being selfish here"? Often I've asked myself, "Am I being selfish here"? And I'm glad I asked myself because the Holy Spirit is not gonna lie to you. "Yes, you are Creflo". He says, "Don't be selfish," and then watch this now, he says, "Don't try to impress others". And then you as a Christian looking at that and say, "Am I trying to impress others? I can't even get out the house on time because I'm concerned about am I dressed well enough, am I this and that, am I trying to impress others"?
Don't do that 'cause if you do that, you're just setting yourself up for hurt. "Am I trying to impress others"? You need to impress God first. Then he said, "Be humble". Somebody say, "What does he mean by being humble here"? Thinking of others as better than yourself. When is the last time? Can you recall a time in your life where you have been thinking of others better than yourselves? These are the things we need to hear in church. We're so busy trying to be poetic and getting a 10 rating for our sermon. Some Christians haven't even heard this before, they're like, "Oh my God, I didn't know that. Had I not known, had I known I'd have done better"? "Don't look out only for your own interests".
Are you looking out only for your own interests? Maybe you have a business and your business majors on taking advantage of people because you're looking out only for your own interests. Because if there's not something on the other side, maybe it's just all about your own interests. He says, "But do you take an interest in others as a Christian"? Ask yourself, "Do I take an interest of somebody, of other people"? Next verse. "You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had," because when you have the attitude that Christ Jesus had, you're gonna be improving, you're gonna be maturing. He says, "Though he was God," Jesus, "Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to".
He could have. He could've came down here and walked around and say, "Bro, you know, I'm God, don't you"? He could've, but he didn't think it was something to cling to. "The importance in your life, the promotions in your life, the things that God does in your life, is it gonna be something that you think is important for you to cling to, or will you keep yourself open to share the interest of somebody else"? He said, "Instead," he gave his divine privileges, "He gave up his divine privilege," excuse me, "He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being," even though he was who he was, "When he appeared in human form," he did all of that.
A lot of people don't even understand what did he have to give up to get down here in the form of a man, to be an example. Man needed to see an example on a human level. And Jesus showed up as an example on a human level. You can't ignore Jesus and then talk about, "I've matured". I don't think you're ever gonna walk in the type of maturity the Bible's talking about ignoring Jesus, because he is the pattern, and the standard, and the example of spiritual maturity. Make sense? And verse 8, "He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross". Being God, died a criminal's death on a cross. Ain't nothing I can say about that.
Look at 2 Corinthians 3:18, 2 Corinthians 3:18. You know, I am so okay with getting up and sharing scripture after scripture after scripture, and I am fine preaching to a church who wants to listen and learn, and I am so delivered from doing a cartwheel to see if I can get you to jump up and scream and say, "Preach Pastor". I wanna make sure you're learning something and improving, and I wanna make sure that I can have an opportunity to see you get picked off the tree and be used. But sometimes you have to just settle down, and just make it plain so people can see it. 2 Corinthians chapter 3, verse 18, "So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord who is the Spirit, makes us more and more like him".
Now stop right there. So, you know, when I started looking at this, I'm thinking, "Man, this is really gonna be hard". I mean, me maturing is gonna be hard and so that's my first mistake. He's not asking me to do the work of maturing myself, he's asking me to depend on him to do the work of maturing me. I have a beautiful announcement to make, that God has accepted the responsibility to live in you, walk in you and work in you. It is not God who's walking on your side and he's not walking in your back, he walking in you praise God. And I want you to do this for a homework assignment, I want you to go and look up all the scriptures where you see God saying, "I'll do the work".