Growth—science tells us—delineates the living and non-living. All living things grow; the non-living do not. A pebble does not grow up to become a rock and then a mighty boulder. But little acorns become tender saplings and, in time, great oaks. Newborns become adolescents, adults, and eventually the aged.
Generally, when physiological growth is accompanied by intellectual, emotional, or social development, we say that the person has matured. In particular, parents hope that children do not just grow, but mature because then, these offspring will make the right choices to give themselves a good life.
Growth and maturity are just as indispensable in the spiritual sense. Before we came to know Christ, we were dead in sin. But the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice has given us life anew. Since we are spiritually living, then we ought to spiritually grow. And like any anxious parent, the heavenly Father hopes that we not only grow but attain spiritual maturity for there is much at stake. The mature will know the right path to take towards eternal life. The immature are easily led astray and quickly devoured by the evil one.
But precociousness is sometimes mistaken for maturity. A child who dresses like an adult and parrots adult speech is still not a true adult. So what is true spiritual maturity? How can we attain it?