When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:11)
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
Time alone doesn’t guarantee proper maturity.
If you are in any other industry, there’s an expectation and a path for developing.
No one would permit a first year software engineer to have the same skills and capabilities as a twenty-year software engineer.
In fact, if you were spending twenty years behaving with the same maturity as a first year software engineer, you probably would lose your job.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the same at church.
Longevity, especially within the same church, often grants an inappropriate level of credence.
There’s no reason to believe that wolves aren’t patient. And blindness can’t be detected without the right discernment.
In fact, there are many people who are truly, truly growing like Christ and do so with such conviction they may be chronologically younger and newer than an older person who does not mature.
Why is teaching then, the way to catch it?
Maturity comes from a closeness to Scripture. It shows an accumulation.
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (Matthew 6:5)
To be clear: praying in public is not what is being condemned.
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4
But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 1 John 3:17
What is the true litmus test? It isn’t these three.