Let's play a word association game. When I say 'dog', you say 'cat'. When I say 'night', you say 'day'. When I say 'New York', you say 'Los Angeles'. When I say 'Shake Shack', you say 'delicious'. When I say 'Cowboys', you say 'lucky'. When I say 'Tom Brady', you say 'Kirk Cousins'.
You will notice that the first three associations are all "opposites" (dog vs. cat, night vs. day, NY vs. LA). The last three associations are "descriptive" (Shake Shack burgers are delicious; Cowboys are lucky; and Tom Brady plays like Kirk Cousins).
So when I say 'mature', you say ______________________
How many of you put down one of the following: 'old', 'boring', 'retirement', 'gray', 'over 65', 'AARP', 'nearly dead', 'wine', 'Victor'?
Please raise your hand.
Alright, now how many of you put down one of the following: 'freedom', 'joy', 'peace', 'necessary', 'calling', 'God's-will', 'what-I-need', 'living-from-the-heart-Jesus-gave-you'?
There isn't a right or wrong answer to this of course. This is merely an exercise to see what our minds instinctively think of, or associate, when we think of 'mature'.
Unlike our popular culture which idolizes youth (youthful looks, youthful movie stars, etc.), the Bible emphasizes maturity. Especially as followers of Christ, the New Testament calls us to become mature in our faith and in our thinking. A whole host of problems dissolve in our lives if only we were more mature.
Conversely, immaturity creates unnecessary problems and pains. We hurt ourselves and one another with immature attitudes and actions. Our immaturity breeds immaturity in our kids. Our immaturity robs us of deeper experience and knowledge of God. Our immaturity keeps us living on the surface of life. Our immaturity debilitates our spiritual engagement with God for the sake of the world.
A "cost-benefit" analysis can be done on our maturity vs. immaturity.
The benefits of maturity are numerous. Perhaps the most surprising benefit (certainly surprising to me as I'm reading Living from the Heart that Jesus Gave You) is that the more mature you are, the greater your ability to live from the heart Jesus gave you. In other words, maturity = more freedom. A mature person is a secure person. A mature person is a happier person. A mature person is a more humble person. A mature person puts God at the center and not the self. A mature person rejoices in the success of others. A mature person cries over the brokenness of the world. A mature person laughs with the joy of God. A mature person lives life with Godly perspective. A mature person knows prayer is a gift and that one cannot live well without it. A mature person .... [we can add more].
Here are verses from Paul's letters to the different churches where the subject of maturity comes up. Look at some of these verses. And meditate on some this week.
1 Corinthians 2:6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.
Ephesians 4:13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Philippians 3:15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
Colossians 1:28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
Let's pray: Father, help us to become mature in Christ, for our sake and for the sake of the world and for your glory. In Jesus' name, Amen.
In union of prayers,