Journeying toward maturity

Published 5:03 pm Friday, March 13, 2015

After picking up Madeline from baton class Tuesday evening we headed home.   As we traveled, she noticed a cattle trailer and excitedly remarked that she had seen cows.  Seizing the moment to educate her on the topic, I told her that they were on the way to the place where they would be sold the next day.  She was less excited about that part of the situation, then without giving her more details than she needs right now, I went on to explain how beef on our tables makes it there from the farm.  Like most six year olds in our day, that all seemed surprising to her since she simply thought that it all came from the grocery store.
I doubt that she rushed off to her friends at school the next day to tell them what Papa told her about the origin of hamburger meat, but maybe it helped increase her rapidly growing knowledge and understanding of how things in life work.  Her growth in knowledge is a sure indication that she is maturing and it is part of an ongoing process that is sometimes slow, but needful.  Growth can be frustrating–even painful at times–yet it is critically important.
As we acknowledge the importance of maturing physically, emotionally and mentally, it is also critical that we pay attention to our journey of maturing spiritually.  If no spiritual growth progress is being made there is real reason for concern and action.  The apostle Paul acknowledged the problem of spiritual immaturity among the Christians at Corinth:  “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2, New International Version).  Along this same line of thought, the writer of Hebrews 5:13-14 states:  “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
If you have spent any time with children, you are well aware that they have many distinguishing characteristics that demonstrate that they have not yet reached maturity.  Besides having bodies that are not fully grown, their actions and abilities also reveal that they have much to learn.  In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul mentions a couple of defining traits of the spiritually immature that have childlike qualities:  jealousy and quarreling.  When these traits persist, it is a sure sign that spiritual maturity is not being achieved.
I read a tale about a man who had been bitten by a dog.  He went to the doctor and received the shocking news that he had rabies.  After getting the news, the gentleman quickly got out paper and pencil and started to write.  Thinking his patient was writing his will, the physician sought to give him encouragement by telling him that his condition was not a death sentence.  To that the patient responded, “I am not writing my will, I am making a list of those I plan to bite!”
Spiritual immaturity drives us to want to hurt others, to get even when we think we have received a bad deal, and to have our way no matter who suffers by our actions, but maturity seeks the good of others and the honor of God.
Which best describes you, spiritually mature or immature?

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