Mentorship Leading to Maturity in the Faith

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In Philippians 3 the apostle Paul laid out his resume as a Jewish leader. It was a self-portrayal he willfully and gladly turned from, counting it as rubbish. Instead, he chose to pursue Christ wherein he found exceptional blessings and benefits. With determination Paul pursued perfection and attainment in Christ, seeking to be an imitator of the One who died for us.

Philippians 3:15-19 addresses the importance of walking as a mature child of God.

As many as are mature

The child of God who seeks after the mind of Christ will grow and mature. Of course, maturity is a process; it is an ongoing endeavour. Paul has already stated that he was still working on developing the mind of Christ in his life (v 12-14). He’s not saying that he was immature or stagnant in faith. Quite the opposite – he was a mature imitator of Christ who sought to grow even more.

Philippians 3:15 acknowledges achievement – the maturity of faith and success in developing the mind of Christ, and yet it also admits the possibility that in some things we may lack the mindset we ought to have. Paul wrote:

“…let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think
 otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.”

Even those who are mature in the faith must be cautious since the mind can stray from the pattern of the Lord. We can be influenced or drawn away. Certainly, those who are more mature in faith are better equipped to face the challenges that come our way, but still, Paul warned us:

“…let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Though the mind of the mature disciple might stray into inferior and meager thinking, Paul was confident that “…God will reveal even this to you.” How? He doesn’t say but Paul had assurance that the Lord is watchful and will admonish His people. Some possibilities:

  • We may be convicted and relent of our thinking by the reading of His word.
  • Hopefully we will find our conscience violated due to our divergent thoughts.
  • Perhaps through the concern and love of our brethren we will be turned from a wayward mind back to the mind of Christ.

However it may be accomplished, the Lord desires for us to walk according to the level of spiritual maturity we’ve already attained to (v 16), and to press on that we might grow further and become more and more like our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Join in following my example

Mentorship is advantageous for those who seek to grow in faith. There are numerous examples of mentors and apprentices in the Scriptures: Moses & Joshua; Eli & Samuel; Samuel & Saul; Samuel & David; Elijah & Elisha; etc.. Solomon spoke to the importance of receiving counsel and guidance:

Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are
(Proverbs 15:22)

Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter
days. There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the LORD’s counsel
 – that will stand.
(Proverbs 19:20-21)

Paul was a mentor to many. He identified two of his travel companions – Timothy and Titus – as true sons in the faith. And certainly, there were others – Silas, Onesimus, Epaphras, Jason, Sopater, Sosthenes, Trophimus, and more. Paul called the Corinthian church his “…beloved children…” and referred to himself not just as one of many instructors they would have in the faith, but indeed as a father to them, as he begot them through the gospel (1 Corinthians 4:14-15). One verse later, he stated, “Therefore I urge you, imitate me” (1 Corinthians 4:16).

Paul urged the Philippians, “…join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern” (Philippians 3:17). Of course, Jesus is the perfect example, the divinely supplied pattern for faithfulness, but the Lord gives us people in our lives whom we may look to and learn from and imitate, even as they imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; Hebrews 13:7). We would do well to recognize such individuals, highly esteem them, and appreciate their positive influence in our walk of faith (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).

Don’t follow the enemies

We need to be selective when it comes to the influences in our lives. Those who pursue godliness and righteousness will have a positive impact on our lives as we seek to grow spiritually. However, Paul warned the brethren about others who are enemies of the cross, who are willfully walking toward destruction, having their minds set on carnal things (Philippians 3:18-19). Do not follow these!

In the Galatian letter, this sort perverted the gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:7) and compelled the brethren to obey the law of Moses rather than the gospel of Christ (Galatians 5:1-12; 6:12-13). They are self-serving and use smooth, flattering speech to deceive people (Romans 16:18). Some present themselves as ministers of Satan posing as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:12-15). They are “…men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth…” (1 Timothy 6:5), who if given the opportunity would “…subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not…” (Titus 1:11).

The Spirit of God has supplied warning after warning in Scripture about those who are enemies of the faith, who seek the destruction of souls, who exalts lies rather than truth. May we beware. May we keep our eyes fixed upon Christ and thus have the ability to discern between those who see our best spiritual interest and those who seek their own. Paul stated to the Corinthians, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Let us maintain and grow in good conduct. May we be aware of the manner of those whom we keep company with and seek those who are a good influence on our lives and faith. And may we strive to grow in faith such that we will be a positive role model of faith in the lives of others.

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