A False Spiritual Maturity Test For Christians…and a Better One

maturity

One of the frequent criticisms I hear of churches that are trying to reach people who don’t attend church is that they fail to produce ‘disciples’.

Honestly, this is a criticism that, off and on, has been levied at our ministry for years. And it bothers me.

On a recent speaking tour, I heard it again and again from church leaders. (Almost always, by the way, from leaders whose churches weren’t growing.)

I know it’s a criticism that has followed many church leaders.

So…how do you engage it? Better yet how do you respond to it?

For a while I wasn’t sure how to answer back.

Over the years we’ve worked hard on our discipleship process, engaging people in groups, serving, giving and inviting non-Christians to explore Christianity. It’s not perfect, but it’s getting better all the time.

And yet any process begs the question: how do you know if you’re producing spiritually mature disciples or not? How do you measure?

Finally a few years ago I stumbled on a test that for me, at least, answers the question as well as I’ve heard it answered. I’m hoping it clarifies things for you and your team as well.

First, A False Test

I’ve written about how the church today is getting discipleship wrong in this post and again here.

If you listened to many in the church these days, you’d think knowledge equals maturity. The more you know, the more mature you are.

Scripture suggests that’s a false test. After all, as Paul points out, knowledge puffs up; love builds up.

Knowledge makes you arrogant. Love makes you humble.

This sheds light on one of the greatest puzzles of the church today: why is it that the Christians who claim to be the most spiritually mature are often the most:

Smug

Arrogant

Judgmental

Bitter

Divisive

And even angry?

When did an arrogant and judgmental heart become evidence of Christian maturity?

It’s not.

And it never was.

In fact, as I argue here, many things Christians think are signs of spiritual maturity actually aren’t.

A Much Better Way to Tell

So how do you know whether your discipleship strategy is effective—whether it’s producing followers of Jesus who are maturing?

Enter Jesus. He summed up the proof of discipleship as succinctly as anyone.

I was reading through this passage again a few years ago that I finally realized Jesus gave us the test that defines discipleship exceptionally well.

He simply said: “By their fruit you’ll recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”

In other words, look at someone’s life for the evidence.

What evidence? Evidence that the Holy Spirit is transforming someone, or as the ancients used to say, evidence that someone is being sanctified.

That sounds great, but what does that look like?

Back to Paul. He actually defines what it’s like to be transformed by the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5.

He begins by listing the fruit of people who are NOT being transformed by the Holy Spirit.

Paul says people who are not under the direction of the Holy Spirit have lives characterized by, among other things:

Hatred

Discord

Sexual immorality

Jealousy

Impurity and debauchery

Fits of rage

Dissension

Factions

Envy

Conceit

So…look at the people who are following Christ in your church and ask yourself: is this what their lives look like?

If so, you have some work to do on your discipleship strategy because it’s not producing what the Holy Spirit produces in people’s lives when he’s at work.

So what does the Holy Spirit do in peoples’ lives?

When the Holy Spirit gets a hold of someone, he produces:

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

Self-control

So, (here’s the test again) look at people who follow Jesus in your church and ask “Is this what characterizes their lives more than it did a few years ago?”

If the answer is yes, you have an effective discipleship strategy.

If the answer’s no, you have some work to do.

You can’t set perfection as your standard because we live on this side of heaven.

Will everyone who claims to be following Jesus ‘be there’? No.

Will everyone stick around? Nope, you’ll lose a few. (If you have no back door you’re either running a cult where no one is allowed to leave or you’re really not growing.)

But people SHOULD be more like Christ than they were.

And that’s the point.

Their character and heart are being re-shaped by the Holy Spirit. That’s effective discipleship.

As the ancients knew, sanctification (the process of being made holy) is a life-long process. God isn’t done shaping you until you’re dead. And even then, he has plans for you.

Bringing This Home

The more I thought about Jesus’ teaching (by their fruit you’ll know them) and Paul’s definition of fruit, the more I realized that maybe despite the critic’s claims, we actually have an effective discipleship strategy.

Why could I say this?

I looked at the people we baptized 3 to 5 years ago and ask where they are now and what they’re like now.

First, most of them are still around. They’re still following Jesus. AND, when I see where they’re at in their lives, they actually are more loving, more patient, more kind. Further, they’re exercising more self-control (sometimes remarkably so) and many would tell you they have far more peace.

They also display less immorality, less envy, less divisiveness, better control of their temper and greater humility.

Guess what?

The scripture tells us that that’s the Holy Spirit at work. They’re being discipled. They’re becoming mature. 

The Irony

The irony I see (and I have to be careful how I say this), is that often the people who slam churches for not producing disciples are the people who display the fewest fruits of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, their accusations are often characterized by anger, hostility, pride and sometimes jealousy (their criticism often targets growing churches). At a minimum, you don’t get the sense that their question is motivated by love.

You see the incongruity, right?

The people who claim to be the most spiritually mature fail the biblical definition of maturity.

And the people who don’t claim to be spiritually mature often pass it.

A More Mature You

Didn't See It Coming

The challenge for a lot of us is that we intend to do better, but we’re our own worst enemy.

Despite our best efforts, we grow cynical and proud, we compromise our integrity and we end up feeling empty.

What gives?

My new book, Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges Everyone Experiences But No One Expects, which is available for pre-ordernow, covers all this in detail.

It’s a journey into the soul that I hope will make you a better leader and a better human being and Christ-follower.

Pre-order today and you’ll be the first to read it when it releases.

What Do You Think?

It’s just something to think about the next time someone claims yet again that your church fails to produce disciples.

And it’s a great way to evaluate your own ministry.

Just look for the fruit. You’ll see it. One way or the other, your ministry is producing something in people’s lives.  Wise leaders know what it is.

What are you learning about discipleship in your ministry? Scroll down and leave a comment.

42 Comments

  1. […] What’s the best test for spiritual maturity? I share some thoughts on that here. […]

  2. Patty on May 31, 2018 at 12:00 am

    I thought the post was off for some reason.
    Was the point of the post to bash folks who know the word?
    I mean the false test and the true test of the maturity of disciples? Really?
    Read Eric Ubers posts above.

    • Patty on May 31, 2018 at 12:02 am

      I mean His posts below.

    • Jon on June 4, 2018 at 5:18 pm

      Great read, very well said!

  3. […] What’s the best test for spiritual maturity? I share some thoughts on that here. […]

  4. Joe Perez on May 26, 2018 at 10:58 am

    The gospel is not “Love God and Love Others”. Jesus stated the greatest commandments were to Love God and love your neighbor. These two commandments summarize all the law. Keeping commandments is not sufficient to bring about reconciliation with a holy God. Reconciliation can only come about through the mediator between God an us – the Lord Christ. Someone who has reverence for God and is a good neighbor still needs a Savior.

    The gospel is the “death, burial and resurrection of Christ”. This is the “good news”. He died, but rose again victorious over sin, the grave and death. Someone can only be accepted of God through the finished work of Christ. We must humbly come to Him believing His claims, asking for forgiveness and accepting His finished work.

    Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

  5. Brian Judge on May 24, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing Carey. On a similar tangent we’ve had a controversy in the Australia media over a Christian sportman (Israel Folau) quoting Deuteronomy to defend a Biblical view of homosexuality. Folau has been hounded in the media as a result.

    Oddly, on social media a number of Christians picked up that Folau’s view of the Trinity (he’s an ex-Mormon) was in error and started attacking him from the other side of the spectrum!

    My comment on social media at the time was:
    In fairness Folau is a sportsman, not a theologian. It’s likeIy his odd theology stems from his upbringing and early adult years as a Mormon. While I respect (the critic’s) desire to stoutly defend orthodoxy, a little gentle correction (you can tweet him too!) might be a kinder way of responding than waving the heresy card. Don’t forget, we have an enemy and they aren’t other Christians.

  6. Scott Button on May 21, 2018 at 11:12 pm

    I agree with one pastor who said “often those who know their bible the best are the most carnal because they only know it but don’t live it.” I know some streams of the church that seem to focus so much on knowledge development they have missed character development and culturally relevant engagement with their mission field. It is never one over the other but both. As Paul wrote Philippians 1:9 “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,”

  7. Jim Kenney on May 21, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    I believe the people you describe who describe themselves as spiritually mature seem to be more arrogant than mature. I believe spiritual maturity, whatever that means, must include a deep sense of connection — to God and to others. If a person is deeply connected to others, how can they then be judgemental. They sound more like religiously rigid than spiritually mature.

  8. Tom Benyon on May 21, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Thanks Carey – bang on, as ever. Thank you for your insights and for your integrity. Be encouraged – your ministry is crucial.

  9. Dion blundell on May 21, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Great article, really made me think about what we are doing.

    One line “If the answer’s no, you have some work to do.” needs to be fleshed out a bit more.

    If the answer’s no to those who have been with you a long time, you have some work to do in re-evaluating your programme. If the answer’s no, to those who have been with you a short time you have an opportunity to link them in with the work you do.

  10. Jack Klose on May 21, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    Carey, admittedly, I am not a big fan of modern church leadership teaching. I think it often opposes Scripture and God’s intention for the church rather than upholding it. I do follow you and a couple other men, however, because I often find redeeming and pragmatic thoughts on church leadership from you. So I recognize I may be reading with a slight bias – but I do follow and read because I find much of your content functional and Biblical.
    With that said, I agree with the premise of your article. I have for years tried to parent and pastor with the concept of the fruit of the spirit as a goal (there are many things to strive for – but this list is quite a functional litmus test). I would, however, challenge you that the tweets you make optional as a part of this post would be contrary to the heart of the message (other than the final tweet). Indeed, I fear they would feed an angry or divisive heart.
    Additionally, I think the statement about knowledge of Scripture is a far too dramatic statement. Knowledge can, indeed, puff up when left unchecked and directionless. But to truly love God I must know him. God’s Spirit directs my heart as I learn of Him from the Scriptures. Knowledge is vital to my growth. I would purport that our depth of knowledge should be drenched in dependent prayer to the Father for growth as well as new and Christlike longings.
    I appreciate your ministry, and I do not want this to come across as trolling. Peace be to you!

    • Patty on May 30, 2018 at 10:35 pm

      Agree, Many times the “love” unconditionally and trying not to be “judgmental” leads to pretenders and fakery.
      Which I cannot stand. I know I have along way to go myself . I really need the power of the Holy Spirit.
      With out His power I will be hypocrite. An actor like most other people in the church today.

  11. Ryan Toews on May 21, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Greatly appreciated your post on this subject. Am starting to read your posts more often. Thank you for personalizing your response for when people attack other Christian’s. There are casualties. Am praying for my own heart to be transformed and healed from critiques of others that is not God’s love.

  12. Leonard Edloe on May 21, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    Carey, there are a lot of reasons. Insecurity, learned behavior, maybe even living a life different from the one we profess. All these things and a few more cause people to act in a way contrary to the life of Jesus. Jesus told us to love. That seems so easy but it is very hard because we confuse love with like. And as I preached a sermon series on I John, many admitted that did not have a true understanding of love. I say so many times, there are things that we do, that God does not like, however, God still loves us. Even though I disagree with some things you say, I appreciate the work you do for the Body of Christ. Keep up the good work

  13. Doug Kibbe on May 21, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    The timing of this post is amazing. I was just talking about this very issue with our staff this morning. We have had a few religious critics question our approach to making disciples. They claim we run the risk of going down a slippery slope if we don’t use the exact terms used in the NT (eg ‘deacons’) or refer to Jesus as “the Forgiver of our sin and leader of your life” rather than Savior and Lord. The claim is that they are being faithful to the Word of God. But the way they have communicated that conviction is loud & angry. And they disregard the fruit that has been produced…salvations, baptisms, and volunteering. What’s sad is, they came from churches where there was little or no fruit at all (conversions or numerical growth). I have been gracious and listened, but have had to remind the critics that Jesus said changed lives, not knowledge, is the fruit or proof of faithfulness. This was an encouragement Carey. Thx!!

  14. Roxanne on May 21, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    I have found in my Christian walk the more I read the Bible and engage in prayer and asking questions on how to live by God’s Word that it takes a lot of courage to stand up in your belief and understanding of why Jesus came to us and who he was to the people of his day. People haven’t changed, just the surroundings we live in. Reading the four gospels over and over has given me much knowledge about who Jesus was then and how to live it out today as He walked. The one thing that stands out to me over and over is his relationship with the people. Over the thirty years that Jesus was growing and maturing in his calling, the people around and about were waiting for him to present himself. The story of his birth and how the Romans came in later and killed the boys two and under left a strong impression to those people that were there, help them believe even much stronger, that that baby was the LORD. So, the story is passed around through out the country and when he shows up they are over whelmed to see the things he did. Now, the high priests and the Pharisees are forced to stand by and check out Christ and when they would approach him Jesus was stern in his answers, which I believe that his posture showed it as well. When he would relate to the everyday people he spoke in away that didn’t intimate the people. I think the more a person becomes mature in their relationship with God the more they learn this and relate it to those in their lives.

  15. Erik Uber on May 21, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    There is a misunderstanding about “producing or making disciples”. We as believers don’t “produce” or “make” disciples. That is the Lord’s doing. What are we commanded to do by Christ Jesus? It’s in Matthew 28:19-20,

    “Go ye therefore, and TEACH all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
    TEACHING them to OBSERVE all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (caps mine)

    It never said anything about “making” disciples. We are to point the way to His commandments and have them to take heed to His words. If we’re going to teach them, we better be sure we are teaching them correctly in truth. There are a lot of “mature” believers that teaches falsely and therefore “producing” more false believers. “Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?” (Luke 6:39). Many mature believers do have the “fruits” (i.e. love, gentleness, etc.), but are they teaching truth? I know many people in other faiths that have the same attributes of those fruits but obviously they don’t know truth.

    We are to teach others to observe “whatsoever” the Lord commanded us to do. If they do not love truth, then they are not disciples of Christ. Disciples are “learners” of truth and once they learned the truth and applied it in their lives by obeying His commandments and to ENDURE IT, then they are indeed His disciples. They are not “our” disciples. They are His. We don’t “make” them or “produce” them, that honor goes to Christ Jesus. We are brethren, the servants of the Most High, which teach others the truth from His word and commandments. We are not masters, there is only one Master, which is Jesus the Christ. We mature believers are to teach the young believers but that doesn’t mean we are their masters. Once we teach them, it’s up to them to follow His commandments. If they do, then they will mature and will teach others to observe all things the Lord commanded them to do.

    Unfortunately, in these last days, those “disciples” are fewer in number. Many of them do not love truth and fall to the wayside that includes those who do go to church every Sunday, pay tithes, and are being “discipled”. There are many who believe they are right with God but are not because they are blind. How, by following their blind leaders.

    The “fruits of the Spirit” is something we all learn to do once we are saved because the “old man” have gone and we become new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17). It is His Spirit that produces within us those fruits. It is a result of a changed man.
    When I think of maturity, I think of Hebrews 5:12-14,

    “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
    For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
    But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of us have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

    • Benjamin Hampton on May 21, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      So Erik Uber, based on your assesment of how disciples are made, how many have you been a direct channel of God for in the past, and how many are currently under your guidance based upon your practice of this teaching of truth? (Of course scripture teaches us to teach the truth in love, something that was not mentioned in your rather lengthy post but we’re not here to discuss that at this moment.) Or have you already pre-excused yourself from actual results based on your comments in your post stating that there are very few these days who will truly will be disciples?

      • Erik Uber on May 21, 2018 at 2:43 pm

        You made a wrong assumption and you didn’t read carefully what I said. I don’t “make” disciples. Go back and read my statement. It’s not about how many “I” have under “my belt”? Is it about me? Do I based “my success” on how many men that I disciple? Is it about numbers to you? I say that in love (there, I said it). I direct those who want to follow Him to His words from the Holy Scriptures to obey and endure to the end, nothing more. Tell me, why did Jesus said this in Luke 18:8, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth”? Also, go read John 17:19, meditate on that.

        • Michael Jones on May 21, 2018 at 6:02 pm

          I hate to say it, but the tone that comes across in your two posts here is very straightly proving the point of the article.

          • Erik Uber on May 21, 2018 at 6:43 pm

            I guess you don’t approve the Lord’s rebuke and also Paul’s when it comes to false teachings. All of my comments were said out of love and was firm in the truth with scriptural back ups. You think it is harsh because it you know what I said is true and you can’t deal with it. Not all things are lollipops and cupcakes being served to you. Truth needed to be spoken and you needed to be rebuked for not abiding in sound doctrine.



    • S Nichols on May 22, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      C’mon, Erik. Dig deeper into Matthew 28:19. The word is the verb form of “disciple.” Jesus used a totally different word for “teach” in the next verse. To say we “make disciples” seems a very honest rendering of what Jesus commanded in v19. In fact, that disciple word is what Jesus used in John 13:35 when He said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

      • Patty on May 30, 2018 at 11:18 pm

        Totally agree Erik Uber. Well said! Thank you!

        2 Tim 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
        2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
        17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

  16. Dan Smith on May 21, 2018 at 11:10 am

    “Let love be your highest goal.” 1 Corinth. 14:1, NLT. For me love is what determines the maturity of another believer. But just like you said Carey its shown in the fruit of the person. Great article!!

  17. Jan Oller on May 21, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Thanks for the post and a reminder about the fruits of love, both of God’s love for us and our call to love our neighbors. Putting the focus on how we live, as disciples of Jesus, is where we ought to look, I believe. I love the hymn – they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love – it says it well.
    We in the church are all too often capable of inflicting great hurt on each other when someone worships differently than we do, when someone reads/understands the Bible (in good faith) differently than we do. Yet, we are called to be with one another despite those differences. We bring each other to a deeper faith when we can listen and discuss without rancor and without negative rhetoric.
    Keep up the good work, Carey.

  18. Jeff Courter on May 21, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Sorry you got so much criticism for using what I considered an excellent sermon by Bishop Curry. Many of your critics, IMHO, would also criticize Rob Bell for his affinity towards universalism, and would characterize Rob as no longer being a Christian believer. Likewise for Bishop Curry.

    We have long separated ourselves from one another over doctrine, so this is nothing new. It is unscriptural, however – we are to maintain unity as much as possible; “for who are you to criticize the servant of another?” (Rom 14:4)

    If doctrinal agreement is the prerequisite for Christian unity, then we will never be united. I often disagree with my wife, yet we are coming up on 30 years united in marriage. We sometimes have to agree to disagree. Love does this.

    As I see it, orthopraxis trumps orthodoxy. If our behavior is right, this is the fruit of a “good tree,” or a good heart (I can anticipate all the Calvinists out there decrying that the human heart is wicked, but I will ignore that for now). If our words are judgmental, that’s part of our behavior, and it reveals a bad heart. There is but one judge, and our judgments of one another mean nothing to the only Judge that matters.

    • Patty on May 30, 2018 at 11:47 pm

      Then why did Jesus tell us to judge a righteous judgement?
      John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge a righteous judgment.
      1 Corinthians 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
      2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
      3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
      4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
      5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

  19. Erin Pittenger on May 21, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Thank you for this reminder! I am always refreshed and challenged by your words. God bless bro.

  20. Irwin Harder on May 21, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Well said Carey,
    My pastor has been saying this for several years now and our church is becoming a much safer place to be.
    Thanks again

  21. Jeremy Mahood on May 21, 2018 at 10:33 am

    The greatest pain I have ever experienced in ministry has come from within the church, not the community. I think the real art of living is to learn to live with ambiguity. These self righteous people seem to need to be right rather than be in process. God can and will defend His church. He doesn’t need my arrogance to do that.

  22. Len on May 21, 2018 at 10:16 am

    Hey Carey—Just keep on doing what God called you to do. Keep on blessing others. Remember the hostility and slander directed even to Jesus—-and Paul and Peter and Luther and Wesley etc.
    Love God, love people. Take all the other stuff from harsh, arrogant, destructive people and find the dumpster. And then, move on. And thanks for blessing me.

  23. Michael McIlwain on May 21, 2018 at 10:14 am

    Pastor Kevin DeYoung is very strongly theological, but I have read articles he has written where he says IF he had to choose between a somewhat shallow, nice church leader and one who is deeply theological but mean he would take the first one. Thankfully, we don’t have to choose between the two. Knowing God better through His Word should make us more like Jesus who prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Mercy should be a major part of the the Christian life, but it has to be produced by the Spirit. None of us will be merciful if we fail to lean on Christ for strength to obey this command.

  24. Kelli Scott White on May 21, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Thank you for this. As I read so many pious and, some, downright ugly comments from your post yesterday referencing Reverend Curry’s royal wedding sermon, I had these same thoughts running through my mind. The world is watching. They are watching not just the royal wedding, but the church. Some in the church have forgotten Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:36-40. The GREATEST Commandments are (1) Love God and (2) Love others. This is the very message of which Reverend Curry spoke and yet, to some, it was not good enough. How ironic and how sad. That being said, I am rejoicing over the potential for so many lives to have been touched by Reverend Curry’s powerful message of love! May those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus see how simple the Gospel is: Love God. Love People. That’s it!

    • Eddie Anderson on May 21, 2018 at 10:43 am

      Kelli, I think I understand the intent of your comments and not disagreeing with you on that. If I may I would like to add: The gospel is simple, but yet so difficult because it requires submission. The Gospel (good news) is “Jesus died for our sins, and was raised from the Dead.” Love God and Love People to a non-believer can be interpreted “acknowledge God and be a nice person” and God will let you into heaven. Love God, Love People is a command the Bible gives to believers, similar to the command “Go and make disciples.” or more literally “make disciples who make other disciples.” Let us be very careful to never leave Jesus out of the gospel. Without Jesus, there is no gospel.

      • Kelli Scott White on May 21, 2018 at 11:45 am

        I hear you. I quoted Jesus’ words, so I did not leave Jesus out of the Gospel. Reverend Curry has a platform which included a vast audience of non-believers. The world sees the politics, the hypocrisy, the judgment within the church (big “C” church). We’ve lost so much credibility worldwide. What Reverend Curry did was simplify the message of which Jesus spoke. Love. Love God. Love Others. The love of Jesus is so attractive! Reverand Curry’s message has already opened doors to conversations which, I’m absolutely confident, will lead to new followers of Jesus. And yes, this includes Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as atonement for our sins. How exciting!!!

  25. Allison on May 21, 2018 at 10:05 am

    Amen!!! Thank you for sharing this today! I see it too! With you!

  26. Eddie Anderson on May 21, 2018 at 10:02 am

    I get the meaning of this post and I agree with it 100%. I think applying it requires wisdom and grace. Jesus was certainly angry when he cleared the temple and the Bible says “a great anger rose up in Jesus” when he was at the tomb of Lazarus. There is a “righteous” anger and “speaking the truth in love” sometimes requires tough conversations. The question for me is, how do we know the difference in the “mean” people described here, and those who really are mature and love you enough that they are willing to be courageous and speak truth. Most of us are scared to death (myself included) to speak truth in certain situations because we know there will be criticism for it and we will be labeled by some as a person described above when that is far from the truth.

    One of my favorite leadership quotes is “Seek first to understand, then be understood.” Despite how mean, self-righteous, and spiritually arrogant people can sometimes appear, I do my best to give them the benefit of the doubt and respond with grace, until their fruit becomes clear. It could just be God is using them to speak a hard truth into me that I’ve not been wanting to hear. And, God can use even those mean-spirited people to teach us, if we are committed to walk humbly and remain teachable before him.

  27. Jim Poirier on May 21, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Great article, as usual. I find your articles to be on time (just what I needed at the right time) and helpful. Take a look at Matthew 7:1-5, there are people who we could call ‘speck Inspectors’. Always looking for something to pick at. Best to ignore them. Keep up the great work Carey, the silent majority need it!

  28. Cal Morgan on May 21, 2018 at 9:21 am

    I believe your original comments regarding the American Bishop who spoke at the marriage young couple was excellent…so was the bishop!

  29. Robert Thomas on May 21, 2018 at 6:11 am

    A most excellent post. Exactly what I thaught on yesterday by the way. Also by the way the Ancients didn’t call it being sanctified they called it theosis and it is a process of being deified.

  30. ELMER BATTUNG on May 21, 2018 at 1:26 am

    This is a crystal clear message from the Scripture. That is our standard. Thank you for sharing Carey… God bless you more.

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