2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Mature means fit or fully grown and developed; perfect complete, whole, maturity in goodness. When can a disciple say I am fully-grown in Christ?
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Paul expresses his desire to know Christ. He gave up every thing to follow Christ, his goal is to know and be like Christ and to experience what He experienced, which made him happy. Not that he has reached there forgetting everything from the past, what is behind. He had a lot to remember he wanted to know the joy of knowing Christ like Stephen. Paul had to make bigger sacrifices to know Christ and be like him.
Every thing he did he consider rubbish. That's how he considered all that he achieved in the past. Let us check ourselves and ask where do we stand in knowing Christ? Paul was probably in Rome under house arrest. Probably 30 years he has been a Christian, he was on a mission suffering in many ways. Bad attitudes towards him, spat on, beaten up etc. but he considered everything rubbish in compared to knowing Christ.
Some of us are 5 yrs or 10 yrs as Christians and we have built on Christ life on the word of God being the foundation. Paul was a Christian for 30 yrs, even after that he was still starving to know God. Some of us have stopped growing, but we are good at being critics of the church. We need to be humble - the way we serve people. Coming to church on time, involving in others life, studying the Bible helps us to know Christ better. How can we fall in love with God, our goal should be more than before. Mature people don't consider there past achievement or any thing to boast about. We have to keep a record of all the little good we see. But we get involved in church politics; we have opinions about every Christian. We should be growing, but we stay in one spot and analyze the past. We have two things to grow in Christ. (a) We need to have faith (b) We need to grow in our beliefs
1. We need to have Faith
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.
12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Where is our faith on? Just going to church or growing from with in. Jewish Christians had problem not maturing and growing. They should be ready to teach others but they were refusing to go beyond their old practices and traditions and old beliefs. They refused to grow but got mixed up in many doctrines. In fact they should be teaching others how to love Christ better. But they were being taught the basics again.
Solid food if for the mature but they were demanding milk. When we don't grow in our Christian life, we desire milk. We get used to being taught basic things again and again. Come to meetings, bring your Bible, don't sleep in church... We struggle to digest simple teachings and crave for milk. We tried to feed solid food and we spit it and ask for milk. The mature are the ones who are able to distinguish good from evil and know the right and wrong choices.
2. We need to grow in our beliefs.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
When children grow they no longer be infants, when our faith grows we will no longer be swayed left and right by others teaching. We should see the Holy Spirit working in the Church.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 13:11-13
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
We should leave childish ways behind, we don't have all the answer to the life, and we have to keep growing and mature.
1 Peter 2:1-3
1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Let us crave for pure spiritual milk, we need to reach Christ, so let us keep growing, craving to attain maturity. Salvation is a gift given to us. It is already ours, all we need to do is to understand and experience it and grow up in salvation. The Lord is good... always.