When assigning spiritual maturity, many Christians use the measuring stick of being used in the gifts of the Spirit or physical outward signs (actions or lifestyle). However, Godly character is the TRUE marker for spiritual maturity.
Being used in the gifts of the Spirit does not necessarily qualify for the badge of maturity. I have seen people used in the gifts of the Spirit that were not spiritual at all. The Word of God gives us a perfect reference to this. King Saul prophesied even after his rejection by God. Could God use him? Yes, but he was definitely NOT in a right place spiritually – he was extremely immature because he sought things his own way, not God’s.
Another case in point is Balaam’s donkey. This animal was used to speak a word of wisdom and to speak prophetically. Can an animal be spiritually mature? God uses vessels. Depending on the circumstances, God will simply use what is available.
It is not the gifts of the Spirit that are the gage, but the production of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23 – “22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control…” )
This test of Godly character is found in Jesus’ own words. His response to a Pharisee’s question gives us the true definition. Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV) – “’36Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ 37Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
1. Love God – first and greatest commandment
2. Treat others right – second greatest commandment