The new life of the kingdom has two different effects. There is what the Gospel does in us and then what the Gospel produces through us.
What happens in us is that we grow in Christ-likeness.
What happens through us is that we grow in fruitfulness that produces a harvest.
I’m becoming convinced that you cannot mature if you do not multiply but you cannot multiply well if you are not mature.
What does the Bible say about maturity?
Col 1:28 & Col 4:12 – Epaphras prays for maturity and Paul hopes to present the church mature before God.
Heb 5:14 & Heb 6:1 – the mature can distinguish good from evil, the mature know the basic principles of the faith and are becoming skilled in the Word. They have trained themselves.
Php 3:15 – The mature think in such a way that the call heavenwards in Christ is a priority
Eph 4:13 – Those who become mature in Christ together, corporately in the church, attain something that would be impossible alone.
1 Cor 14:20 – Much of the road to maturity is in the realm of our thoughts, we need to stop thinking like children
1 Cor 2:6 – The mature recognise the Gospel for the wisdom that it is
However maturity is too often thought about merely in terms of character – a wise person, someone who knows their Bible, someone steady & trustworthy, who can be trusted. In church leader speak a mature Christian is one who will serve and help out, lead a small group and definitely not be the source of drama or need much in the way of pastoral care.
The New Testament seems to speak of maturity in a broader sense, yes maturity of character is essential. We all need to grow in the fruits of the Spirit for example (Gal 5:22) but it also speaks of fruitfulness. Take a quick look at Col 1:9-10 with me
For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.
Col 1:9-10 (NRSV)
The goal of Paul’s prayer is a life well lived. A way of living life that is worthy of Jesus himself from any angle. This way of living finds its expression inwardly and outwardly. Inwardly because we are growing in the knowledge of the Lord: knowing His Word, knowing His Will and knowing His Ways.
Outwardly it is expressed ‘bearing fruit in every good work’ – proclaiming the Gospel, making disciples, loving the poor & vulnerable, maintaining holiness (James 1:27).
As disciples of Christ, Jesus expects us to mature and He expects us to multiply. Multiplication is the sign of maturity, the proof of fruitfulness, evidence that we have been doers and not just hearers of the Word of truth.