What Becomes a Believer Most

Long before the ubiquitous and long-running “Got Milk” ad series by those Dairy Association folks, there was a famous ad campaign back in the seventies for the Great Lakes Mink Association that featured various celebrities sporting a beautiful fur coat.

These ads were usually placed on the back cover of upscale women’s magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. The legendary double-entendre tag line was “What becomes a legend most?” Here’s an example from early in the 10 year campaign:


Lately I’ve been reminded of that classic campaign as I’ve pondered this question: What are the most definitive marks of Christian maturity? Or: What should a child of God look for in his or her own life as an indicator that they have grown spiritually?

In other words: What becomes a believer most?

I have settled on two rare traits thatI believe will be consistently in evidence in the life of any truly mature Christian. It is not how many Bible verses one knows; how often one is in church; or how many “don’ts” one consistently abstains from. They tell-tale traits are:

  1. The capacity for unselfishness.
  2. The ability to remain peaceful and at rest in a severe test.

Not to point fingers, throw stones, or notice eye-specks or anything, but I’ve noticed that these two traits can be conspicuously absent in folks who have been “in the Way” for a long, long time. Here in my 40th year of sainthood, I’m wondering if I’m as highly developed on those two counts as I should be.

Look through the Gospels at the occasions in which Jesus expressed disappointment or frustration at his disciples and you’ll find it is almost always because they were being self-absorbed or were freaking out in a stressful situation. The longer they hung with Him, the more He expected them to be securely others-oriented and calm in a crisis.

For the mature Christian, self-absorption and fearfulness are simply . . . unbecoming.