The process of becoming spiritually mature doesn't include shortcuts, says Saddleback Church senior pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren.
In a devotional published on Monday, Warren focused on the issue of spiritual maturity, referencing Philippians 1:6: "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns," reads the verse.
Warren compared the path of spiritual maturity to that of physical maturity, noting that it can take time for a believer to surrender all of their life to Jesus.
"It takes years for us to grow to adulthood, and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. The development of Christ-like character cannot be rushed. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time," wrote Warren.
"Before Christ enters our lives at conversion, he often must allow us to experience problems so that he can get our attention and show us that we're living a life built on a faulty foundation."
Warren went on to note that for some believers, "when we invited Jesus into our lives, [we] simply gave Him a foothold, but we're resisting His efforts to step fully up onto the bank so He can fully access our lives."
"You may think you've surrendered all your life to Him, but the truth is, there are parts of your life that you're still hanging onto," continued Warren.
"Jesus isn't upset with you. He simply wants to work with you to help you uncover areas that you still need to surrender to Him."
This emphasis on a gradual maturing into spiritual thinking compliments comments that Warren made earlier this month in a devotional last week, when he wrote that God understands that changes, especially spiritual ones, occur gradually rather than all at once.
"When God helps you grow spiritually, he doesn't just snap his fingers so that it happens instantly. He does it incrementally. When God wants to make a mushroom, he takes six hours, but when he wants to make an oak tree, he takes 60 years," Warren explained.
"The Holy Spirit will make changes in your life far beyond anything you thought possible, but they're not going to happen overnight."
Warren stressed the need to be "intentional" about changing oneself to be more Christlike, noting that it involves, as Ephesians puts it, putting on "your new nature."
"This is how we become more like Jesus. We throw off the old things and the old ways that keep us from getting to know Christ and becoming like Him, and we put on our new selves with the help of the Holy Spirit. We let God do His work in us — no matter how long it takes," he added.