For many years, I pleaded with God to bring people to me who would hold me up. I believed I was too broken and weak to stand on my own. In His wisdom, He didn’t answer my prayer the way I thought He should. He provided me with wise mentors who opened my eyes to this truth. I would never develop an inner strength without facing adversity head on. They provided me with the tools I needed, God provided me with His empowering grace, and it was up to me to allow my roots to grow deep. It was up to me to face adversity head on and to not retreat.
There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity.
When God wants to remove the defects in your life, he doesn’t just snap his fingers so that it happens instantly. He does it incrementally. When God wants to make a mushroom, he takes six hours, but when he wants to make an oak tree, he takes 60 years. Do you want to be a mushroom or an oak tree?
It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt.
What is Christian maturity?
It is silence when our words would hurt;
It is patience when we’re being hurt;
It is deafness when scandal flows;
It is thoughtfulness for another’s woes;
It is sharing whatever little we have;
It is being kind rather than being right most of the time.
Sometimes arriving too quickly is detrimental. It is dangerous to arrive without our character mature or intact.
It will be a wonderful moment for some of us when we stand before God and find that the prayers we clamoured for in early days and imagined were never answered, have been answered in the most amazing way, and that God’s silence has been the sign of the answer. If we always want to be able to point to something and say, “This is the way God answered my prayer,” God cannot trust us yet with His silence.
The first mark of maturity is the ability to deal constructively with reality to face facts, to not cover up reality or call it something else, but to deal with it as it is. Mature people do not kid themselves. The second mark is, adapting quickly to change. We all experience change, whether it be physical, at work, in the family, or whatever. I am amazed at how much some of you have changed through the years while I remain exactly the same! Immature people resist change. It makes them nervous. But the mark of maturity is to adapt to change because change is inevitable. The third mark is freedom from the symptoms of tension and anxiety. The worried look, the frown, the ulcers, the palpitations of the heart – come because you are upset, anxious and worried. Maturing means you have begun to see that God is in control of this world. He is working out purposes that you do not always understand, but you accept it. He will take you through the deep water, not drown you in it. Maturity means you are learning to trust. Fourth, it means to be satisfied more with giving than receiving. Some of you have recently learned that the joy of Christmas is not getting presents but giving them. To see the joy in someone else’s face when they get something they either need or want. That is a sign you are growing up. You are discovering the true values of life. The fifth mark is, to relate to others with consistency, helpfulness and mutual satisfaction. Maturity is learning to get along with other people, to be a help, not a hindrance, to contribute to the solution and not to be always a part of the problem. Finally, maturity is sublimating and redirecting anger to constructive ends. Maturity is the ability to use the adrenaline that anger creates, not to lose your temper and add to the problem, but to correct a situation or to contribute to changing the nature of the difficulty.
A state of mind that sees God in everything is evidence of growth in grace and a thankful heart.
So often we are in danger of abusing the Scriptures…We use them as mere phrases in that manner, or lightheartedly we sing our hymns, and we feel better for the time being. But the question is, How do we stand up to temptations when we are in the street outside, and what are we like at home? When you turn Scripture into a drug, into something which gives you a temporary relief without your knowing why or how, the effect does not last. It gives a temporary feeling of exhilaration, but fails you when you are in the struggle and in the heat of the battle.