The emotional range of a 5 year-old is nothing short of amazing. She can go from ‘end of the world’ tearfulness to ‘I’m going to Disney world’ laughter in 60 seconds! He can be ever so charming and compliant this moment, only to turn into a kid who is mule stubborn and sullen the next. Those mercurial emotions are part of being a child. The brain’s ability to regulate impulse is not very well formed when we are 5! In fact, learning to filter emotions, to control impulses, and to connect the consequences with our actions are skills that do not fully come into being until we are near 20 years of age!
The Christian life mirrors our human development. We are ‘born’ into new life by the Spirit. Then, we must grow in grace, developing maturity, through teaching by those who are further along and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul lamented the childishness of the Corinthian believers noting that they were still lacking control over temptation, ‘mere infants’ incapable of receiving the Word. Peter wrote to us that we “must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18, NLT)
Are YOU growing in God’s grace gifts?
Is the Spirit leading you from a place where you need constant monitoring to a life that is lived ‘on purpose’ with an appreciation for the promise of Eternity?
One of the primary indicators of maturity, natural as well as spiritual, is steady, sustained effort toward unseen goals. A parent feels great when their child starts to carry responsibility without constant urging. As that child begins to show signs of preparing herself for something more than the next moment, there is relief in knowing that an adult is emerging. Our Abba desires that we too learn to regulate our behavior, that we learn to see past the immediate desires and choose the best and highest things that He has for us. Paul urged his spiritual son to keep on growing. “Timothy, you are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11)
Do not measure maturity by perfection but rather by progress! If you think that spiritual maturity will make you flawless, discouragement is inevitable. Nobody gets it right all the time. However, if you are still living with the same sins that you were struggling with 5 years ago, you have a case of arrested development. God, the Holy Spirit, lives in you. Be responsive, obedient, earnest and He will train you for maturity, leading you through tests and trials, giving you confidence to grow on. “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!” (Hebrews 10:35, NLT) “But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved. Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 10:39-11:1, NLT)
Here is a word from the Word for us as we grow up in Christ. “So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11, The Message)