A clear indication of maturing in Christ is increasing humility. The closer we draw to Him the more we see our need for Him, because the closer we draw to Him the more we grasp His holiness and our sinfulness.
Notice the progression of increasing humility in the apostle Paul’s life.
- For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God (1 Corinthians 15:9 – written in 56 AD).
- This grace was given to me — the least of all the saints — to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable richesof the Messiah (Ephesians 3:8 – written in early 60 or 61 AD).
- This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” — and I am the worst of them (1 Timothy 1:15 – written in 62-64 AD).
The more Paul matured in his faith the more sinful he saw himself. In a matter of years, the apostle Paul progressed from viewing himself as the least of all the apostles, to the least of all Christians, to the worst of all sinners. He went from “I am the worst apostle in the group” to “I really am the worst Christian I know” to “I am the worst sinner on the planet.” He wasn’t actually more sinful; he just more clearly saw himself in light of the Lord’s holiness.
The closer we get to God the more we understand His holiness, thus realizing more and more how sinful we really are. This makes us all the more grateful for His grace. Because of His grace, an increasing view of His holiness and our sinfulness causes us to rejoice in Christ who takes all our sin and generously gives us all His righteousness.
Because of Jesus, our joy does not diminish when we see ourselves as more and more sinful. Because of Jesus, our joy actually increases with our understanding of our sinfulness. Our joy increases because we realize more and more that His love and grace are even bigger and better than we first imagined.