This week, I will grow up.
Spiritual maturity isn’t something that happens by osmosis. You have to recognize its importance, swallow your pride, and proactively pursue it.
“I’m big,” a child claims at the age of five. “I’m big,” the same child says at age nine. “I’m mature,” the 21-year-old says. “I’m old,” the 45-year-old moans as he looks in the mirror.
Truth be told, we’re all still growing. I haven’t “arrived.” Those of us who think we’ve arrived may be the ones most in need of further journeying.
The apostle Paul observed how people advance over time in matters of spiritual education. “I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly — mere infants in Christ,” he said in 1 Corinthians 3:1,2. “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.”
The writer of Hebrews lived with the same reality, trying to explain certain spiritual truths: “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Hebrews 5:11,12).
Sense the underlying frustration? Both passages seem to say, “Hurry up and learn!”
In the physical realm, I could eat nothing but Twinkies and effectively stunt my own growth. I can also stunt my growth in matters of the spirit — with ease! When a conflict presents itself, for example, I can rationalize my rage (“I’m right, after all!”) rather than grapple with the biblical principles of mercy, honest dialogue, or accountability.
If I want the richest, fullest possible life and ministry, I must do the hard work of growing up. In Psalm 25, David urged God to keep prodding him into growth. “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths,” he sang; “guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” David recognized that he had to lay down his pride in order to accept this gift: “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way,” he sang.
But what was David’s objective in this quest for growth? He wanted to thrive. “Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord?” he asked rhetorically. “…He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land.” In other words, my spiritual growth — in spite of the pain that the process may entail — will be good for me … and good for my “descendants” — those around me, those I love, those I live and work with, those whose lives will be shaped in part for years to come by the life I live today!
My Prayer for the Next Seven Days… God, don’t let me off easy; keep growing me. Let me become everything you’ve dreamed of me becoming. Amen.
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.