Spiritual Maturity Is Never An End In Itself
By Rick Warren
— May 21, 2014
Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life. Matthew 20:28 (LB)
"The last thing many believers need is to go to another Bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice. "
We are commanded to serve God. Jesus was unmistakable: "Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life." (Matthew 20:28 LB)
For Christians, service is not something to be tacked onto our schedules if we can spare the time. It is the heart of the Christian life. Jesus came "to serve" and "to give"—and those two verbs should define your life on earth, too. Serving and giving sum up God's fourth purpose for your life. Mother Teresa once said, "Holy living consists in doing God's work with a smile."
Jesus taught that spiritual maturity is never an end in itself. Maturity is for ministry! We grow up in order to give out. It is not enough to keep learning more and more. We must act on what we know and practice what we claim to believe. Impression without expression causes depression. Study without service leads to spiritual stagnation.
The old comparison between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea is still true. Galilee is a lake full of life because it takes in water but also gives it out. In contrast, nothing lives in the Dead Sea because, with no outflow, the lake has stagnated.
The last thing many believers need is to go to another Bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice. What they need are serving experiences in which they can exercise their spiritual muscles.
Serving is the opposite of our natural inclination. Most of the time we're more interested in "serve us" than service. We say, "I'm looking for a church that meets my needs and blesses me," not "I'm looking for a place to serve and be a blessing." We expect others to serve us, not vice versa.
But as we mature in Christ, the focus of our lives should increasingly shift to living a life of service. The mature follower of Jesus stops asking, "Who's going to meet my needs?" and starts asking, "Whose needs can I meet?" How often do you ask that question?
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