A Journal for Bible Teachers

Marks of Maturity: Part 4 – Character

Marks of Maturity: Part 4 – Character

How Well Do We Handle Painful Delays

This again is another vital proof of how dedicated we are to God, and whether or not we are a person of strength. Delays and how we handle them reveal whether we are following God only for what we can get out of Him, or if we are following Him simply because we love Him and desire to do His will. What is your response to God when He detains a quick answer to your request? Exodus 32:1-9 is a testimony of what many believers do when things are not happening fast enough…they turn their backs on God and go their own way.

Perhaps you have prayed and longed for years for an answer to a difficult situation and still there is no clear word or deliverance from God. The mature Christian understands that if God is delaying the answer, He is doing so for some very good reasons. He also realizes that God will be faithful to him and speak when it is precisely the right time. The Lord waits so that He may be gracious unto us. (Isaiah 30:18). Painful delays work something out in our hearts that nothing else could.

The committed Christian does not deliver God any ultimatums or deadlines. The immature believer draws a line and gives a charge to God saying; “I have prayed about this for two years now and if you do not give me my request right now, I will leave you and go my own way.” Real Christians are bent on doing the will of God, not their own, regardless of the cost or delays. In times of delay they will say to God; Give me grace Lord, and bring me through and perform all you must in my life during this time of delay. This is an attitude of strength and nobility. Waiting for God’s time in our proof that we love him. (Read Isaiah 64:4), 1 Corinthians 2:9). Failure to wait for God’s time could result in a loss of inheritance, and it could upset God’s plan for our life. (Proverbs 20:21).

How Well Do We React to People Who Have Hurt Us?

One of the first things we should consider is, “Are we an over-sensitive person; are we easily hurt?” Most of us are! God is against injustices, and yet He might be more interested in our reaction to an offense, that the offense itself. When evil responses arise because of an offense, God is after our reaction. Jesus had not evil reactions. He was a Lamb, a Servant! (1 Peter 2:23, Isaiah 53:7). Most our real problems are not outside of us (what someone said or did). Our real problems are within ourselves, in our hearts and minds. (No peace, no joy, guilt, fears, confusion, over sensitiveness, insecurities, grudges, etc.). The problem is that we are not strong within. It takes a strong person not to react! I am not suggesting that we should be stoic or emotionless (this is a hardened heart). But we do need a Spirit-controlled temperament. As we grow spiritually (more wisdom, understanding, joy, peace, love, longsuffering, mercy, patience), we will be able to handle and respond to people and situations the way Jesus did.

Are we any different than most unbelievers? Paul said the Corinthian believers were scarcely any different than the world (1 Corinthian 3;1-3). The Lord Himself said that if we only love those who love us, or if we are only kind to those who are kind to us, for what are we to be praised? Even the unbelievers can do this! (Luke 6:32). There can be no real power over Satan if we act just like him. The baptism in the Holy Spirit gives a believer power to cast out devils, but to have power over the bigger principalities and powers, it requires the self-life to be crucified. This was the key to the power Jesus had.(1 Peter 2:23). He did not act like Satan, therefore he had power over him.

First Corinthians 13:1-3 is a picture of a Christian with gifts of the Spirit without the fruit of the Spirit. The way to know where a man is at, ourselves included, is to observe how much of the fruit of the Spirit he has in his life.(Galatians.5:22-23). A man could be a great preacher, teacher, a fabulous musician, an administrator, and have extraordinary gifts, and still be a weak Christian and fail. We know a man by his fruits, not by his talents, abilities or gifts. (Read Matthew 7:20, 7:20-23).

How Much of a Servant’s Spirit Do We Have?

According to the words of the Lord, greatness is determined by how much of a servant’s heart we have. (Mark 9:33-35) Jesus himself was a Servant of all servants. What is a true servant?

A Servant is:

  • Someone who is devoted to another- dedicated to the welfare, interests, and comfort of others. It is the opposite of one who is selfish, self-willed, or self-centered.
  • Not demanding-Does not insist on his own rights or equality. He accepts what is given to him and is thankful. (Matthew 5:3)
  • Not independent-One who puts up with inconvenience and difficulties. “I will endure all thing for the elect’s sake”. And not like the fallen nature; “I don’t have to put up with this”. (1 Corinthians 9:19, 2 Timothy 2:10)
  • One with no reputation to defend-He is just like our Model Servant. (Philippians 2:6-8) Jesus never had any “identity” or individuality problems. He was seeking the honor of another-His Father. The Lord was not out to make a name for Himself.
  • One who is not proud-Therefore he is not easily offended or quick to anger.
  • One who will do over and above his duty-Yet does not require a “thank you” or pat on the back. (Luke 17:7-10)
  • One who has the presence of the Lord-God walks with the lowly servant for he is also a servant. (Isaiah 57:15). He loves to walk with those who are like Himself and compatible with Himself.

Having a servant’s heart is the key for getting along with others, especially at home. The true servant fulfills the law of love, which is…Total Unselfness. (1 Corinthians 13)

How Much Contentment Do We Have?

According to 1 Timothy 6:6, contentment is one of God’s greatest treasures. It is gain! Contentment is owned by the mature and by those who, like King David, have had their desires reduced down to one main thing, the Lord himself. (Psalms 27:4). David said he had found fullness of joy in God’s presence. (Psalms 16:11) Paul had learned to find contentment in any state. (Philippians 4:11). He did not have he comfort of an understanding wife, a beautiful house, nice clothes, or any of the other luxuries of life. He had suffered the loss of all things, including his past positions and titles, and the acclaim of man. (Philippians 3:7-10). Yet the presence of the Lord fully sustained and satisfied his soul. He had discovered that he could be “complete in Him,” even though he had been sitting in prison for 4 years when he made these declarations of victory. (see Colossians 2:10).Many believers drink from the wrong source and turn to worldly things to try to satisfy their thirsty souls, instead of drinking from the Lord who is named, “The Fountain of Living Waters” (Jeremiah 2:13). But for those like Paul who have tapped in Him, find life, even if they possess little of this world’s goods.

How Well Do We Get Along With Others?

Christianity involves us with people! It is unscriptural to be a lone Christian. Being unattached to a body of believers is almost always a sign of unresolved conflicts such as hurts, distrust, and indifference. Sometimes it may seem easier not to get involved with people but deep-rooted problems never really get dealt with when we are alone. We need each other for balance and growth. Maturity is not possible without each other! (John 17:11,21,23).

It is unscriptural and dangerous to be alone! The enemy talks more often to those who are off by themselves. The whole Bible involves us with people. Evidence of how spiritual we are depends on how well we can adjust socially, and how well get along with other Christians, people in the world, our boss, those in authority, and especially our family. These are the real heart issues of life. (Matthew 22:36-40)

True Christianity involves us with people! Scripture tells us to love one another, have fellowship one with another, exhort one another, edify one another, serve one another, forgive one another, and to be knit together in love, etc. Real Christianity puts people together into families. (Psalm 68:6) This is for our safety and growth. Satan attacks the ones who are alone, not those in groups so much. How scriptural is your Christianity? (Is 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13,Hebrews 10:25,13:17 being violated?) Are we accountable to anyone?

How Well Do We Control Our Tongues?

(James 3:2)
The man who controls his tongue is a perfect man! This again is a heart issue, for “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45). God will not deliver us from our trial until our conversation straightens up. (Psalms 50:23, Job 42)

Here are several areas where we need to control our tongue:

  • Keep Secrets (Proverb 11:13) “A talebearer reveals secrets”. Restrain yourself to not reveal the confidential things of others. God reproved Ham for exposing the “nakedness” of his father. (Genesis 9:20-27)
  • No Negative Confessions (Unbelief). These are contagious, and can affect our brethren. The negative confession of the ten spies discouraged the whole congregation, and caused them to murmur and harden themselves against the promises of God. (See Numbers 13:26-33,14:10, Deuteronomy 1:28)
  • No Verbal Retaliation When someone does something to hurt you, pray for grace and don’t fight back with your mouth. (Isaiah 53:7, 1 Peter 2:22-23) This is meekness! Argumentation brings hardness and sin into our hearts. A furious man can be disarmed if we learn to reply back in softness. (Proverbs 15:1)
  • Avoid Foolish Talk - Discern the difference between foolishness and the joy of the Lord (Ephesians 4:29, Proverbs 26:4, Titus 3:9). Avoid foolish questions…they will induce us to give a foolish answer. Avoid stupid topics.
  • No Feigned Lips (Psalm 17:1-3,120:2). Pray that the Lord will keep you out of situations where you are forced to say things you don’t mean! Do not be deceitful or filled with rationalizations. (John 1:47) be “without guile” as Nathanael. Those who are closest to the Lord in heaven have a clean tongue (Revelation 14:5). God hates deceit.
  • No Flattery - Flattery is an evil spirit and it is a snare. Satan is a flatterer. People get hooked by the words of another. Young girls are easily sweet-talked into sin. Warn them! A sincere compliment or encouraging word means a lot, but flattery is different; it overdoes something and the motive is not right (Proverbs 26:28). flattery is a tactic of the coming antichrist, and he will ensnare many by means of flattery.
  • Careful of Commitments - (Proverbs 6:23) “Thou art snared by the words of thy mouth” (Ecclesiastes 5:1-6). The mouth can cause our flesh to sin by giving promises, vows and/or commitments we wish we had not made and cannot keep. This then causes us to compromise. Exercise caution.
  • Clean Illustrations – Never use unclean graphic illustrations. Our words paint pictures in people’s minds. Do not talk about unsavory things (testimonies of past sins, people’s personal things, etc.) for this can actually create uncleanness in those who listen. (1 Thessalonians 2:3, Ephesians 5:12). Words produce fruit.
  • No Discord - The words we sow in others’ ears will germinate. The result is bitterness and bad fruit. (Proverbs 6:19) God hates it. Judas infected the other disciples (John 12:4-6, Mark 14:4-5). Satan is a slanderer. The most damage Satan does is with his mouth (Revelation 12:10). That goes for us, also! Most sins we commit are with the tongue. When a man judges and criticizes another, he brings the same upon himself. (Matthew 7:1-2).
  • How We Speak to God - (Malachi 3:13) “Your words have been stout(hard or bold)against Me”.(Job 27:2, Numbers 14:3)We must be careful how we speak to God and about God. He will deal with us accordingly. (Numbers 14:28) We need to experience Isaiah 6:5-7.Our lips need purging!

How Steadfast Are We?

A mature Christian is judged to be so by his stability. Scripture has much to say about being “rooted.” The up and down Christian is one who is still dominated by his feelings and mood swings. The mature Christian is not governed by his emotions or by how things look, but rather is governed by what God has said. Paul said: “We walk by faith and not by sight.”(2 Corinthian 5:7). The Israelites were most unstable! (Psalms 78:37). They could praise the Lord one day and turn against Him the next.

Paul’s life was consistent, no matter what his circumstances. (Acts 20:18) He said; “You know after what manner I have been with you at all seasons; serving the Lord with all humility of mind and with many tears.” Paul remained steadfast when things were difficult as well as when they were good. It was no up and down situation with Paul. He had caught a heavenly vision. A new vision makes us live differently. Ask God for a new vision of what He wants to do in and through you. The difference between a stable and unstable Christian is vision. Those without an ongoing vision dwell carelessly. (See Proverbs 29:18). Everyone needs a mark to press towards!

About the Author

Dr. Paul G. Caram is an author and international lecturer on the subject of Christian growth. The powerful truths presented in his seminars have transformed hearts and helped many to find fresh direction and new meaning in their lives. Dr. Paul Caram offers many valuable keys that help the believer gain freedom from the bondages of habits and personal struggles. He shows the believer how to find peace in his own heart first, which leads to unity with others.

A graduate of Elim Bible Institute in New York in 1969, and thirty years as a pastor and teacher, Dr. Paul Caram is the vice-chancellor of Zion Ministerial Institute in Waverly, New York, and vice president of Zion Ministerial Institute’s International Correspondence Course program. His books are in over 50 nations of the world in several languages. Dr. Paul Caram and his wife Betsy have pastored Zion Christian Assembly in Ulysses, Pa (United States). for eighteen years.

Dr. Paul Caram received a Diploma of Ministerial Training (Dip. Min.) from Elim Bible Institute. He also has received a Doctorate of Religion (Ph. D.) from Vision Christian Bible College.

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