Maturity – God’s plan for good
While the world may be content with immature adults living foolishly, this is never God’s desire for His children. Immaturity is not some type of art form, but it can easily become a lifestyle that celebrates selfish shallowness, foolishness, and an unwillingness to learn and improve. Despite what some may think, the Lord never intends for Christian maturity to translate into a boring, dull, or unexciting life. On the contrary, as believers grow towards maturity in Christ it opens up a life of understanding, of exploration, and even adventure.
The apostle Paul makes an important contrast in 1 Corinthians 14:20; do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. This double-sided instruction shows that childlike thinking is not to be a permanent condition for God’s children. Spiritual growth is God’s design, and this growth is accelerated as desires and thoughts for evil behaviour are increasingly rejected. Christian growth begins with a right attitude towards Christlike thoughts and character development. This requires a dramatic reorganising of our priorities which moves us from living to please self to pleasing God (1Th 2:4).
Patience, consistency, and perseverance are essential for this growth to take place. Determine to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love (2 Peter 1:5-7). These are the expressions of faith which grow maturity in Christ. Peter rightly instructs us to put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up… (1 Peter 2:1-2).
In 2 Timothy 3:6-7, Paul warned Timothy of people who sometimes creep into church life with sinful intentions. Their motives are dishonourable, and their purpose for others are selfish and destructive. Paul says that such people are burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Such people choose to prevent themselves from surrendering to biblical truth which would transform their minds and their entire lives in Christ (Rom 12:1-2). Contend to remain biblically and practically naïve, they are happy with spiritual uncertainty, content to have unanswered questions and unresolved beliefs over difficult subjects. Consequently, their minds remain childlike in their understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and salvation always seems just outside of their reach. For such people, this justifies their self-centredness and their sinful behaviour which keeps them from repentance of sin and loving obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn 14:21; Mk 1:15; Rom 10:9-10).
Therefore, a deliberate redirection of our desires is necessary for this maturity to happen. Hebrews 6:1 explains to the would-be Jewish people considering faith in Christ; leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity. If all we do is focus on the most basic truths, we rob ourselves of fulfilling the purpose for those foundational truths, which is to set us on a path of growing faith and personal development for maturity into Christlikeness.
Paul explained in Colossians 4:12, that Epaphras understood this and specifically prayed for the believers in Colossae in this regard. Epaphras… is always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. Epaphras knew that spiritual maturity produces assurance of the sovereign working of God’s will in our lives. May we rejoice in these truths and assist our fellow believers to grow towards maturity in Christ.