Mackey W. Harden
Mackey W. Harden
A reader in Chapel Hill, N.C. wrote Ann Landers and asked her to return her definition of maturity. As I read the 8-point definition, I immediately realized that these principles also applied to maturity concerning spiritual matters. The New Testament certainly teaches that we as Christians must grow to maturity, striving to be full-grown in our spiritual lives (cf. Eph. 4:12-16; Heb. 5:12-14; 2 Pet. 3:18).
(I) Maturity is the ability to tolerate injustice without wanting to get even. Commonly known as retaliation, the Bible strictly teaches against it. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Mt. 5:44). The mature Christian is the one who will practice this principle in his daily life (cf. Rom. 12:14-21).
(2) Maturity is patience. It is the willingness to postpone immediate gratification in favor of the long-term gain. Christians must indeed endure and forego some of the pleasures of this life if heaven is to be our home. Moses is a good example of one who was willing to do so (Heb. 11:24-27). James said, “that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (Jas. 1:2-4).
(3) Maturity is perseverance, sweating out a project in the face of heavy opposition and discouraging setbacks. It surely takes a mature Christian to have the kind of steady persistence that is needed to live a faithful life, overcoming the many obstacles that come along. The Bible tells us “not to be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9). We must be “steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).
(4) Maturity is the capacity to face unpleasantness and frustration, discomfort and defeat without complaint, collapse or attempting to find someone to blame. The mature Christian must pick himself up after a fall and keep trying. Paul did (Phil. 3:12-14)! When discomfort and defeat come our way, we must deal with them in an uncomplaining manner. The mature Christian will be content in whatever circumstance he finds himself (Phil. 4:11-13), realizing that he “can do all things through Christ.”
(5) Maturity is humility. It is being big enough to say, “I was wrong,” and, when right, the mature person is able to forego the satisfaction of saying, “I told you so.” Jesus not only taught humility (Lk. 14:7-11), He also exemplified it in His life (Phil. 2:1-8). Jesus said, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (Jas. 4:10). Peter said that we are to “clothe ourselves with humility” (1 Pet. 5:5-7). The mature Christian is one who does so.
(6) Maturity is the ability to evaluate a situation, make a decision and stick with it. The immature spend their lives exploring possibilities, changing their minds and in the end do nothing. The mature Christian has made the commitment to live for the Lord and has conviction enough to stick with it! Yes, we must be willing to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3), “ready always to give an answer of the hope that is in us with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). We must be decisive if we are to be full-grown Christians, striving to be stable in all our ways (Eph. 4:14; Jas. 1:5-8).
(7) Maturity means dependability, keeping one’s word, coming through in a crisis. To be dependable means to be worthy of trust; reliable. There are many Christians who are not trustworthy and reliable. This ought not to be! We as Christians need to be reliable and keep our word. “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation” (Jas. 5:12; cf. also Mt. 5:33-37).
(8) Maturity is the art of living in peace with that which we cannot change, the courage to change that which can be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference. If a person is truly a mature person he will not fret and worry about anything! Jesus said we are not to be anxious about the necessities of life, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. 6:24-34). Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 9, p. 272