“We proclaim him by instructing and teaching all people with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ. 29 Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me.”
1 Corinthians 14:20
“Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking. Instead, be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”
Words like “adult” and “mature” in our culture evoke wicked images of older individuals finally reaching the age where they can indulge their flesh with things that are not for a younger person who cannot “handle” them. That is not the definition of maturity according to God’s word. I do not want to watch something or have anything on my computer that anyone, especially my children could not walk up and see. According to scripture, old and young alike are supposed to be infants in evil, but in our thinking be pure and mature.
A beautiful peach, perfectly ripened tantalizes our taste buds in a way that no under-ripened peach could ever do. In the same manner, a moldy banana is not appealing, either. Maturity has its pros and cons. Somehow there is an allure in our culture to not grow up. To stay forever young. While this might sound appealing at first, perhaps footloose and fancy free – the thought of an individual growing up on the outside but acting like a kid instead is really not very appealing at all. Neither is an old grumpy fogy a great image to aspire to. Beauty is the hallmark of maturity, though, a reality missed by many.
There is something innately delightful in the cuteness of a toddler, but the charm is quickly lost if a teenager were to behave in such a manner. Getting older was never something younger folk thought of as a great thing if you were referring to the outward appearance. But if you were talking about the freedoms an adult had, well that was another matter. Freedom to indulge, but maybe not freedom to work hard. The responsibilities of bills and maintaining order out of chaos can not be balanced well if one does not set aside immaturity and choose to bear the cloak of maturity.
So it is in Christ. We long to arrive but will not fully arrive here on this earth. We cannot settle for the grace that was ours five years ago – we must daily bask in God’s grace and stretch toward the next mark of grace in our lives; bringing God glory by not remaining unchanged, but by daily being made more into the image of God. Ever seeking to know God more – not just to know a lot of facts and become stiffly legalistic, no, to know Him and be more alive!
Maturity does not mean a lack of joy – in fact, it is the opposite! What a joy it is to learn more about my insufficiency and to ask God to grow me in those areas. There is hope in seeing where I still lack in maturity because God will complete the work in us. How beautiful is understanding and the ability to see truth more clearly. So then, maturity is not just for the old, but can be had by one who is young, too. Maturity is not an end, but a constant course toward freedom in which we put others before ourselves and release the small-minded worries about what others think of us.
While we are on this earth, we are like a plant that is always growing, blossoming with Christ’s character. We dare not shrink back or settle for a lesser maturity. We dare not shrivel up or stop growing. We dare not accept this world’s definition of maturity. Maturing can be difficult and painful, but in Christ, it is our destiny.
Lord, help us to grow in You moment by moment, putting to death the aspects of our character that displease you. Be glorified in us, Jesus!