Updated: Nov 2, 2021
In our last blog, we explored Jesus' picture of spiritual maturity, and today, we are going to talk about the picture of spiritual maturity found in Romans 12-13, which we call the r12 picture.
The best first level of unpacking I have seen is the one presented by Chip Ingram, pastor, author and founder of the radio ministry Living on the Edge. Chip’s stated goal is to help Christians live like Christians. Through his r12 messages and materials, Chip points believers to Chapter 12 of Paul’s epistle to the Romans. Chip calls this chapter an executive summary of what a real Christian looks like, one who is spiritually mature. If you have never worked through the r12 materials in one of its several forms, I highly recommend that you do so. Check out Chip’s website at LivingontheEdge.org.
From Romans 12, Chip pulls out 5 characteristics that should mark the life of a spiritually mature follower of Jesus Christ. They are:
Surrendered to God (12:1)
Separate from the World (12:2)
Sober in self-assessment (12:3-8)
Serving in love (12:9-13)
Supernaturally responding to evil with good (12:14-21)
I do not intend to repeat or summarize Chip’s excellent work here. To a great extent, the five points speak for themselves. Suffice it to say that these five characteristics unpack major aspects of the first two GCs of the previous section. The first two characteristics certainly relate to the Great Commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. The last two qualities clearly relate to the Great Compassion to love our neighbor as ourselves. As for the third hallmark, I see it applies to both our relationship with God and our relationships with others.
The primary enhancement I would offer to Chip’s summary of spiritual maturity in Romans is to continue God’s executive summary through Chapter 13, at least. When God inspired Paul to write this Epistle, He didn’t give the chapter divisions we have today. So I see the flow of thought continuing right on into the next chapter, where God addresses three other major areas of a believer’s life, areas that need to be transformed to God’s way of seeing them, namely:
Subject to God’s governing authorities (13:1-7)
Socially responsible (13:8-10) – by loving our neighbor
Showing and sharing a clear witness of Christ to others (13:11-14) – with the awareness that time is short
These three qualities touch on the first two GCs and clearly bring in the third GC, the Great Commission. So together, these eight characteristics of spiritual maturity go a long way toward unpacking the (GC)3 picture we saw in Section A above.
Realizing that you probably have just been introduced to this picture of spiritual maturity, I suggest that you pause here and thoughtfully read through Romans 12 and 13. Looking ahead to our next blog, we will be examining Paul's picture of spiritual maturity for leaders in the body of Christ.