Why does one Christian reach a high level of maturity and others don’t? Maybe it’s because some are more dedicated to growing than others. Maybe it’s because some pray more than others. Or maybe there’s another reason.
Some preachers are phenomenal at teaching and preaching while others bore rocks to sleep. Some are off the scale on pastoral acumen while others are awkward in talking to people one on one in a pastoral context. Why is that? It is rare… VERY rare… that a minister is BOTH an exceptionally gifted preacher AND and exceptionally adept pastor (The two are almost mutually exclusive. Note… “almost.”).
There are Biblical Scholars who understand Scripture in profound ways. In every generation there have been giants like The Apostle Paul, Tertullian, Augustine, Zwingli, Calvin, Luther, and an untold number of others up to today. But not every Christian attains that level of spiritual maturity and understanding of the Scripture. WHY? There are people who never attend seminary, but their godliness is above 95% of men with multiple theological degrees. WHY?
Let’s see if the Scripture gives an answer. The passages are a little longer than usual, but context is important…
1 Corinthians 12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.
Hebrews 5:11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity… 3 And this we will do if God permits.
Two phrases are important: “As HE wills,” and “If GOD permits.”
People attain their level of maturity and understanding under the providential and sovereign hand of God. Whether it is what spiritual gift a person is given… the level to which they are able to apply that gift… OR the level of maturity a person reaches… they are all because of God’s will and decree.
Jesus taught this principle as found in the parable of the talents (Click here) and the laborers (Click here). In the first, different servants were given different amounts of money according to their ability. In the second, the master agreed with each laborer to pay a certain amount… which was the same for all regardless of how many hours they worked. One point of the first was to do the best you can with what you’ve been given… regardless of what or how much it is. One point of the second parable was that the master decides who gets what because it is his to do with however he pleases.
Thus what God gives us… how much He gives us… and how He uses us is HIS decision (Click here!). It seems to me that for some… according to God’s will… a simple faith IS a mature faith. And the proper response is what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:10…
By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.