And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. –Philippians 1:9-11
In middle school, I had that crucible moment when I could have chosen two very different friend groups. There were the girls who were wearing makeup and push-up bras at 13 or there were the girls that were comfortable in their own skin and seemed happy without the attention of boys. One girl in particular stood out. She was concerned with her schoolwork, treating her parents respectfully, making healthy friendships and loving Jesus.
Throughout the years, she taught me a lot about the character of God and what it meant to live a faithful life. This new friend introduced me to a group of young girls who asked hard questions and encouraged me to continue to seek God. These women are why I am writing about Jesus and friendships at this moment. These friendship were more than just sleepovers and girl talk, it was a facet of rooted community–spiritual growth and maturity.
Your group of friends are the people that will mold and shape who you are, how you act and how you live out your faith.
“Christian friendships do not simply help us bask in the sunshine of God’s grace; they also help us to roll up our sleeves and strive after holiness.”
Our Christian friendships matter because they are mutually beneficial to turn each other into people who serve Christ more. So, if spiritual maturity is truly a goal of ours, then how can we help our friends grow in their faith?
- Accountability- a sustainer of spiritual maturity
Don’t you just love when friends call you out? Not me! But it’s necessary. We are called to “speak the truth in love” because it “makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16). I have a few friends that are really good about asking how I am discipling my husband and my son. Typically, I get so busy with the “do” part of my roles that I forget I am a direct representation of Christ’s love to my family. Through a friend’s accountability my gaze is turned back to Christ. So, when we ask hard questions of faith we are pointing one another back to Jesus and back to a life “worthy of the calling we have received” (Ephesians 4:1).
- Service-a product of spiritual maturity
Serving together allows us to see our faith lived out. We recognize that the transformations in our faith are not just intellectual but, tangible. The outcome of a mature faith is good deeds as James says: “show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (2:18). Your spiritual maturity is active, alive, and complete when you serve others. (You can read D is for Do Good for more ideas on serving with your community).
- Prayer-a catalyst for spiritual maturity
Finally, prayer is the fuel that keeps our faith aflame. Yep, that’s super cheesy but when we talk about a growing faith, I like to imagine it like a fire—you have to tend to it to keep it warm, you can’t just build it and hope it stays burning by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can do a lot of cool things, but you have to meet him in prayer and belief for that to happen. Prayer is how we ask God to grow our faith and fight off the enemy’s attempts to keep us from standing still or going backwards.
Paul prays for the Philippian church to grow more and more in the knowledge of God because spiritual maturity is an ongoing process. Thankfully it’s also a process we get to do together–because life is more fun when we grow deep together.
Questions for Your Community:
How would you define spiritual maturity using Philippians 1:9-11?
Has a friendship ever changed you for the good or bad?
Why is serving together so important?
Has prayer ever grown your faith? How?
Reflect on the three areas (accountability, service and prayer) and consider which one could use some practice in your friendships. Then write out a list of three way this week you can star t making some changes to the way you help your friends grow in their faith.
 Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp, How People Change, 75.