What does Spiritual Maturity look like?

I have an audio recording of an interesting interview with Dallas Willard in which the question is posed: How can we tell if we are becoming spiritually more mature? Is there a way to measure spiritual maturity?

Dallas gave a wonderful answer 'off the cuff' noting the difficulty of measuring spiritual growth, but throwing out some suggestive counter-questions we might ask ourselves:

How easily do I become irritated? When I see a wreck on the side of the road, how quickly am I moved to prayer for those involved and the rescue workers?

In his 3rd discourse Upon our Lord's Sermon on the Mount John Wesley gives us (in his comments on 'purity of heart') a description of what the spiritual life of 'the pure in heart' might look like, and I would suggest that this is a nice addition to Dallas Willard's comments:

Such is the purity of heart which God requires of, and works in those who believe on the Son of His Love. And 'blessed are' they who are thus 'pure in heart: for they shall see God.' He will 'manifest Himself unto them,' not only 'as He doth not unto the world,' but as He doth not always to His own children. He will bless them with the clearest communications of His Spirit, the most intimate 'fellowship with the Father and with the Son.' He will cause His presence to go continually before them, and the light of His countenance to shine upon them. It is the ceaseless prayer of their heart, 'I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory'; and they have the petition they ask of Him. They now see Him by faith (the veil of flesh being made, as it were, transparent), even in these His lowest works, in all that surrounds them, in all that God has created and made. They see Him in the height above, and in the depth beneath; they see Him filling all in all. The pure in heart see all things full of God. They see Him in the firmament of heaven; in the moon, walking in brightness; in the sun, when he rejoiceth as a giant to run his course. They see Him 'making the clouds his chariots, and walking upon the wings of the wind.' They see Him 'preparing rain for the earth, and blessing the increase of it; giving grass for the cattle, and green herb for the use of man.' They see the Creator of all, wisely governing all, and 'upholding all things by the word of his power.' 'O Lord, our Governor, how excellent is Thy name in all the world.'

In all His providences relating to themselves, to their souls or bodies, the pure in heart do more particularly see God. They see His hand ever over them for good; giving them all things in weight and measure, numbering the hairs on their head, making a hedge round about them and all that they have, and disposing all the circumstances of their life according to the depth both of His wisdom and mercy.

But in a more especial manner they see God in His ordinances. Whether they appear in the great congregation, to 'pay Him the honour due unto His name,' 'and worship Him in the beauty of holiness'; or 'enter into their closets,' and there pour out their souls before their 'Father which is in secret'; whether they search the oracles of God (i.e. The Bible) or hear the ambassadors of Christ proclaim glad tidings of salvation: or, by eating of that bread, and drinking of that cup, 'show forth His death till He come' in the clouds of heaven, - in all these His appointed ways, they find such a near approach as cannot be expressed. They see Him, as it were, face to face, and 'talk with Him, as a man talketh with a friend' - a fit preparation for those mansions above, wherein they shall see Him as He is.

While we might want to press Wesley to also add some words about the 'Wilderness state' (which he does in a sermon by that name), in these words above he certainly lifts up hearts and quickens desire for a reverent intimacy with the Lord.

I recently heard a fellow pastor say that much of his prayer life is now no longer "God please grant this or that" but simply "Lord, help me know you better and more truly." I suspect that the prayer of the spiritually mature would run along those lines. May his grace bring us there in our own lives.

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