Mature in Christ: Attitude
June 30, 2008
So far we have looked at four character traits of the ‘Mature’ believer, according to the Word; becoming a ‘self-feeder’, growing to be ‘skilled in the Word’, growing in ‘discernment’, and growing ‘beyond’ the basics. Now we’ll shift over to look at the ‘attitudes’ of a mature believer, or rather, how we are to think about some important Biblical issues.
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith– that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”
- Philippians 3:7-16
Philippians 3 holds another key to Christian maturity, which I will call “attitude”, or rather the way we think about spiritual things. Earlier on in the book of Philippians Paul has already called us to put on the “mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5). Part of becoming more like Jesus and growing in maturity involves humbly learning from Him, and learning from others, like Paul, as they learn from him (1 Corinthians 11:1). Here we are hearing from Paul some of the thoughts and attitudes that Christ would have us to learn. As Paul clearly states, “Let those of us who are mature think THIS way.”
How are we to think? First, like Paul, we are to consider all of the righteous things we do as no more than feces (much closer to the actual word used in the Greek) in comparison to the work Jesus did on the cross on our behalf. Do not allow yourself to think – or feel – that anything we do obligates God to save us. In Christ we are righteous, but only because we have been given the righteousness of Jesus through faith in Him. The mature think this way: I am desperately dependent on God’s work if I am to ever see God.
Now, as a result Paul confesses in other places that the true Gospel may in fact have a negative reaction among many. Romans 6:15 asks, “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?” This is the natural response of the non-believer or the immature, but not of the mature believer.
“Let those of us who are mature think THIS way.” Though we realize it is by faith we have been saved, we recognize our need for striving in the area of sanctification. In fact it is only because God already has us tightly gripped in His protecting hand that we find ourselves safe to truly live the Christian life and truly grow. What can be done to separate us from the love of Christ? (Romans 8:35-39) Absolutely nothing! We are safe to strive for Godliness – fear no longer hinders us from a life of risk, for God already holds us secure in his grace. Those who are mature think this way: we have been bought with a price – God now holds our life in His hand – therefore we are free to live a life in response to that safety – a life of striving and pushing and working towards the triumphant goal He has set before us.
The 2 attitudes of a mature believer are;
1.) I recognize that I can do nothing to earn God’s favor, and
2.) I realize that God has already done what needs to be done to secure my salvation, therefore I am free to live a life pleasing to Him in response to that security.