Sometimes we say that my oldest grandchild is 14 going on 40, or in other words, she’s very mature for her age. I have three grandchildren ages 6 months, 6 years, and the 14 year old all in the same household. A visit to them is quite interesting as any incident is naturally viewed by each one of them so very differently. When the oldest bursts into laughter over something funny, the baby is startled by the sudden noise. The 6 year old may have a puzzled look on her face till she figures out the humor in it.
Maturity often refers to our age but I love the definition that says an emotionally mature person is always adding value to him or herself and to those around. They listen more and talk less, except for me-lol. They read. They save. They smile and generally enjoy life. A mature person is always changing, learning and growing. They are not content to remain the same and so it should be with a Christian in their walk.
Seniors sometimes see maturity as a time of rest, a time to reap the rewards of years of toil finally able to fill each day with what they want. While indeed it is these things, it’s also not a time to rest on your laurels. It’s a season for richer mindfulness, perhaps travel, learning new things, and a season to look ahead with an intentionally positive attitude. We can now pursue the things dear to our heart, our passions. It’s a time when you have time, or so they say. In any case, in our later years the growth must continue if we are to age well.
But growing mature as a Christian is even more exciting! The Bible is very clear about the difference between milk and solid foods, referring to new and maturing Christians. (1 Peter 2: 2 or Hebrews 5:11-14) We start out as infants do on milk but our desire should be solid food as we grow. We can still be a “baby” even after having been a Christian for a very long time. Being a mature Christian is not about the length of time you have been a Christian, but rather about how you’ve grown…and in order to grow you must desire it. As the years unfold, our personal relationship with our Father flowers as He shapes us into the person He wants us to become just as it does with an earthly father over time. Pruning and trimming and trust all take time. Salvation is not only a one and done deal, not if you desire to experience the rich depths of the extravagant love Christ has to offer you.
Think of it this way. When you fall in love, you want to know all you can about that person. You want to spend time with them, listen to them, and even simply gaze upon them drinking in all their wonder. When you discover a passion for something, it’s the same. You can’t get enough of it. You study all aspects and learn all there is to know on the subject. It’s the same when you meet Christ. Suddenly you want to go deeper and even more beautiful is that the more you learn, the more you want to learn. It’s never-ending!
“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1
To grow mature, Christians will constantly be in the process of acquiring specific characteristics as they strive to be more like Jesus. They will have developed good Biblical study habits and they will surround themselves with other like-minded students who also seek solid food. Their behavior will have changed. They will have grown softer, more careful, more able to extend grace and forgiveness to others. Maturing Christians seldom miss an opportunity to serve. Obedience is top priority no matter their own circumstances.
“If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:15
Growth as a Christian means we gladly become less and less as he becomes more and more. Our own sin becomes more and more obvious enabling a clearer vision of our constant need. Christ is the focus in all things. We become more and more secure and confident in his promises allowing us to boldly move forward in the authority he gives/we hold. As we grow, the fruits of the Spirit enlarge and expand within us too. Our sharp spikes are smoothed and the crusty edges of our personality eventually fall away.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
With ongoing hungry persistence we are able to go deeper and deeper scratching the surface of who our Father is and His extravagant love for us. This is where we begin to taste the solid food. This growth knows no age limit!
Don’t be satisfied with milk. Seek to grow by going deeper mining the riches waiting to be discovered. This journey is ageless!
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18