But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able." (Matthew 20:22)
Those of us who are zealous to be counted as disciples of Christ often pray without considering the cost of our prayers being answered. For example, almost every sincere Christian desires in his heart to be spiritually mature. But what is the cost of spiritual maturity?
We think of the benefits of being able to walk under the complete leadership of the Holy Spirit. We get "goose bumps" when He gives us a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom, or when we lay hands on someone and He takes away the pain or the disease. It brings euphoria we would love to have every minute of our lives. But these are just movements of the Holy Spirit for the particular occasion, they are not to be our lifestyle...unless we are willing to pay the price.
The most spiritually mature Person who ever existed gives us the perfect definition of spiritual maturity. We think it is to walk in an aura of holiness, but He tells us it is something altogether different. Listen closely as He reveals the secret of spiritual maturity:
Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19)
"I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." (John 5:30)
These are the words of the Son of Man. He emptied Himself of His godliness and took the form of man (Philippians 2:6-8). This meant He walked the earth as man, just as we walk the earth today. He knew He had a divine purpose, but He knew also that He could not possibly fulfill it without constant direction from the Father. Therefore, He wasted no time relying upon His own human wisdom.
Can we see the similarity? God is not frivolous, He did not breathe life into us without a divine purpose. But we see also that we haven't the slightest chance to fulfill that divine purpose unless we learn to depend solely upon God. Our own works are filthy rags because they are not the result of divine influence and direction. What a waste of time and effort to try to please God on our own!
And Asa did good and right in the sight of the Lord his God, for he removed the foreign altars and high places, tore down the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherim, and commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers and to observe the law and the commandment. (2 Chronicles 14:2-4)
For he said to Judah, "Let us build these cities and surround them with walls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side." (2 Chronicles 14:7)
Spiritual maturity requires removal of the foreign altars in our lives, and everything sacred that stands between God and us. The most sacred altar in the lives of the majority of us is our preference to trust ourselves rather than to trust God. Another word for that is pride.
We know that God has given us authority over the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19), but we have a tendency to reserve the right to exercise that authority. We prefer to choose the time and the place it fits most comfortably into our program.
We know also that we should walk in His power. It is frustrating when we see our prayers go unanswered, especially when we pray publicly. It is true that He gives us authority, but He can't trust us with His power unless (until) we filter everything in life through Him, just as His Son, our example, did.
Our intellect doesn't want to accept the ways of God, but wisdom mandates it. Subject to the influence of our expedient society, we want to be like Christ, and we want it now. But the Father allows us to play the game of life by His rules only.
Again, Jesus shows us the way: Jesus therefore said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me." (John 8:28)
When did the Father teach Him? It wasn't information He brought with Him from heaven, for Scripture clearly states that He emptied Himself. No, the Father taught Him every time He drew away from the crowd to pray. Sometimes it was late at night, sometimes early in the morning. Jesus kept the communication line open all the time, and the Father directed His every step.
That is true spiritual maturity. We begin to mature as understanding slowly penetrates our thick coat of pride that we will never be disciples of Christ until we are totally dependent upon Him. And that won't happen until we deliberately draw apart from the crowd and the cares of the world to spend valuable quiet time with Him.
We must relinquish the throne of our hearts to the King. We must abdicate our own kingship. This makes our intellect scream for attention. It keeps telling us, "There's not enough time in the day, and besides, there is no logic to this!" And, of course, our intellect is correct. There is never enough time, and if this were logical, there would be no need for faith. But God made it clear that we cannot please Him without faith.
So, the price of spiritual maturity is complete abandonment of self-styled existence. Jesus laid down His life daily. The apostle Paul did the same, as did the rest of the disciples. They were human beings just like the rest of us. Which means if they could do it, so can we.
Do we want to be spiritually mature? Do we truly want to be disciples of Jesus Christ? The first requirement is a decision; the second requirement is commitment. From that point on, we place everything in God's hands.
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: Where am I on the scale of spiritual maturity?