As I grow older, I often wonder if my maturity is keeping up with the number of years God has blessed me with. Part of me hopes not, because I always want to have the benefits of a youthful outlook on life. But the other part of me understands that, as we age, our wisdom should also increase to the point that we no longer bow to youthful indiscretion.
1 Corinthians 14:20 warns us not to be children in our thinking but to have thoughts that are mature. This maturity comes from the wisdom we have gained throughout the years. Earlier in 1 Corinthians 13:11 Paul is teaching this same lesson saying, “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.”
There comes a time in every life when we must give up acting like a child both in our physical lives and in our spiritual lives as well. There comes a time when we must “No longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14).
God asks us to be mature in our thoughts, words and deeds because the importance of the message we have been given to share is the most important message of all and must be presented in a way that honors the initial messenger, with maturity and conviction.
Maturity of this kind takes time, however. It is not something that happens overnight. It takes dedication, study and discipline. It even takes making some mistakes along the way to learn from.
Rick Warren in his book, “A Purpose Driven Life,” puts it this way. “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 Christlike character cannot be rushed. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time.
When you try to ripen fruit quickly, it loses its flavor. In America, tomatoes are usually picked unripened so they won’t bruise during shipping to the stores. Then, before they are sold, these green tomatoes are sprayed with CO2 gas to turn them red instantly. Gassed tomatoes are edible, but they are no match to the flavor of a vine-ripened tomato that is allowed to mature slowly.”
It takes time to gain spiritual maturity just as it does to gain physical maturity. It requires a special commitment to God beyond going to church on Sunday. To gain maturity in Christ means we must be willing to let ourselves be taught and guided by the Word of God and motivated by His Spirit for a life time, because the learning never ends.
And as we mature we can learn to rejoice in the knowledge of that maturity knowing that, even in our sufferings, hope can be found (Romans 5:3-4). A mature and godly mindset comes to understand that, though our present life can be challenging at times, the lessons we learn are preparing us for a much better life to come.
We look all around us and we see those who have neglected maturity. To try and make things right they choose anger and vengeance and misguided passions instead of love, forgiveness and mercy. Instead of relying on an all-knowing God to guide them, they rely only on themselves and their limited experiences. The result is often chaos and destruction.
If we are to be mature in spirit, we must be willing to do things God’s way. Only He can guide us to the kind of wisdom needed to understand the bigger picture. Only he can provide for us the proper tools that will aid our maturity. Only He can provide the patience with us that is needed to draw us to adulthood.
Are you willing to take the next step toward maturity both physical and spiritual? It doesn’t require that you lose your youthful outlook. It doesn’t even require that you forsake the enjoyment of all God has created, including each other. It simply calls us to open our minds and hearts to the power of wisdom, matured through faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s be tomatoes ripened on the vine. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for Your patience with us and help us to grow in maturity so that we might serve you more effectively. Amen.