Each time we see our kids these days, it becomes more real that they are all grown up! The youngest is 25, and they have all been out of our house for 5 years or more, so perhaps I’m just slow to recognize the obvious. What I mean is that they are fully into their own lives, with their own circle of friends, financially independent of their parents, pursuing their dreams, with their own opinions and ideas about the world. And here’s the best part – I am thrilled for them! Sure, I miss the days when they came home from school and filled the house with noise. Sometimes I get lonely and wish they were closer to home. I worry about some of their choices, too. What parent doesn’t? But, they are all grown up just as we wanted them to be. We worked to get them to maturity, to help them become independent adults, because we knew that is how they would make their own contribution to the world and the kingdom of God. Jay, Sean, Chrissie, and Maribel will always be our kids, but they are no longer our dependent children – and that is as it should be.
Some parents ‘hover.’ They are so afraid to let their offspring experience disappointment or pain, so worried about a ‘wrong choice’ that they stay inappropriately involved in their kids’ lives. They keep on making decisions for their child, long after the time when that growing person should be choosing his own road. They provide too much support which perpetuates unhealthy dependence and stunts both emotional and spiritual growth. They remain in full parental roles long after their child should have become self-sufficient.
Did you know that our Heavenly Father wants us to grow up? Several passages in the Word refer to the importance of spiritual maturity.
Ephesians tells us that we should grow up in Christ so we are not subject to being misled by frauds who claim to be spiritual, but who are just out to take advantage of us. “We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:14-15, NIV) Tragically, some Believers won’t grow up. They remain totally dependent on spiritual leaders to tell what to do, how to live, where to go, how to serve. This place of perpetual spiritual infancy is sometimes created by pastors and teachers who want to stay in control. Sometimes is the result of Believers refusing the responsibility that come with maturity. God says, “grow up in Christ and learn to discern!” Interestingly, that same passage in Ephesians says that maturity has a most desirable by-product: unity in the Body. People who are mature know how to get along, how to blend their gifts and abilities into the Church, for the benefit of all. Dependence becomes independence which matures into inter-dependence.
Hebrews urges maturity in our spiritual experience that moves us beyond the basics. “For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.” (Hebrews 5:13-6:1, NLT) Believers need to move into a Kingdom life. Some just come to Christ as Savior, and think that is it, the whole experience. They never deal with their sinful nature, never do the work of applying spiritual principles to their lives which allow them to become holy adults. Instead, they fall into a ‘sin, repent’ cycle; for they are unwilling to really deal with the sinful habits that cripple them. They do not want to mature with the help of the Spirit bringing about the end of childish ways. Mature Believers are not sinless, but they are increasingly spiritual! They grow ‘from glory to glory,’ learning to live in the Spirit, learning to use the gifts of the Spirit, and becoming productive in God’s work.
James observes that maturity brings ‘completeness.’ “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:3-4, The Message) That is so practical, isn’t it? There is no easy road to being an ‘all grown up’ Christian! We walk out our faith and step into places where we experience pressure, disappointment, and even confusion. But, there in that kind of stress, we also discover what real faith is. As we work with God, pray and persevere, a completeness of character and faith emerges. We are ready to serve Him in an effective and productive way.
Are you a mature Believer, or are you still a spiritual infant?
Part of that answer will be determined by when you came to Christ. If you become a Believer last week, we stand ready to encourage you, to help you, to care for you as you grow. If you came to faith a decade ago, you should be well on your way – growing in Christ – and making a Kingdom difference.
Here’s a word from the Psalms about the quality of life that the spiritually mature enjoy. Let it speak to your life today.
” Blessed is the man (mature person)
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:1-3, NKJV)