Intentional growth

Maturity is More Than an Age

cheriquote1-may13

Although I strive for maturity, often I find myself acting more like a spoiled child or touchy teenager than a mature adult.  As children, my sister and I often played ‘grown-up,’ each taking a turn at being the adult–the prized role in our drama.

I was certain I was growing up as I was getting older. However, many of us know those who grew older yet never grew up.  It’s easy for us to identify people who never matured because we often bear the burden for their immaturity: The co-worker who never takes responsibility for mistakes. The neighbors who know-it-all yet display no evidence of this. Or the family members who make every gathering all about them.

On the other hand, we empathize with college students who struggle in their desire to be independent and mature, yet secretly long to become a carefree child again.

In my own life I’ve had to deal with the consequences of immature behavior.  When I blame others or make excuses for my bad choices they see right through me, a sinking feeling develops in my stomach, and I know I’ve lost credibility. If I ask a child to tell someone I’m not at home so I can avoid a caller, I’ve taught a lesson that will take more than words to undo, and my immaturity haunts me. Even though I’m a Christian, it is still hard for me to be Christ-like.  I want to grow up into His image, but my actions reveal I haven’t arrived yet.

My heart breaks, as I’m sure yours does, at the thought that the way I live my life could be a stumbling block to someone’s salvation. So how do we break the cycle we’re in and take steps towards maturity? My journey of discovery began in Hebrews. The writer defines maturity as eating the solid food of Scripture, not just the baby milk or easy stuff (6:1-2). It’s nice to say that God is love, but do we choose to show that trait when someone isn’t so lovely? Similarly, it’s wonderful to know we’re secure in our salvation and have the opportunity to share that great gift with others, but what about sharing the gospel with someone who “doesn’t deserve it”?

These are hard questions, not the questions of a child.

The Hebrew letter challenged the Jews who were looking for an easier way—one with fewer restraints—to mature by continuing to ‘taste’ of the Holy Spirit.  The writer was making two points about growing up in Christ. cheriquote2-may13

First, Real maturity comes by taking responsibility for our own spiritual growth. Click To Tweet That means taking a hard look at our failures, accepting responsibility where we can, and asking God to help us move forward from there. It means being honest in even the little things such as instructing our children how to handle a phone call when we are there but unavailable. These are the little choices we must make everyday. But consistently making good choices is only part of the equation.

The second point in Hebrews is that maturity in Christ means cooperating with the Holy Spirit so we can soak in His rain and produce a good crop (6:7-8).  Hebrew farmers understood this principle. A field that produced good crops was one that had been tilled properly and was able to drink in the rain. On the other hand, a field that had become full of thorns and thistles had not been properly taken care of and, thus, required burning or purification of all the bad seed.

In using this analogy to describe the mature Christian life, Hebrews is painting a clear picture of contrast. A life constantly tilled by going beneath the surface to reveal changes needed in the depths of our hearts, is bringing the hidden into the light and will produce a surface that God can water. Going to church and reading our Bible is a good beginning, but it won't get us beneath the surface until we ask God to reveal what needs changing. Click To Tweet

A life that looks good on the surface but isn't undergoing the hard work of maturity mature under that surface, is going to produce thorns and thistles. Click To Tweet Such a land is not receptive terrain for God’s thirst-quenching Spirit. If we find our lives filled with thorns and thistles: prickly behavior, harsh words, and thorny thoughts, we must first begin anew by setting fire to our fields, recognizing our refusal to grow up or put away these childish things as the sin that it is.

I’m still learning what it means to be a mature person in Christ. But now, when I lose my temper or say things I shouldn’t, when I’m brought through a trial and find myself wanting, I invite the Holy Spirit to come purify my soul. He remakes me anew, turning the ashes of my sin into nourishment for my soul so I might have a prized role in His earthly drama … a vessel worthy of His Name. He promises the same for you.

Let’s talk about this! How often do you sit with God, asking Him to search your heart and reveal areas in need of purging? What areas are you withholding from Him? In what ways are you keeping Him at an emotional distance or perhaps ignoring His voice and prompting? Or, perhaps you’re in the “tilling phase.” Can you share how God is working in you to make you more like His Son?

Cover image for studyShare your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another! We also encourage you to subscribe to our daily devotions on Crosswalk and iBelieve to receive encouraging, faith-inspiring devotions sent directly to your inbox each day. You can read them HERE and subscribe by clicking the yellow subscribe button. We also encourage you to grab a free copy of our Becoming His Princess Bible study, which will help you grow in your faith, center your identity in Christ, and anchor your feet in grace. Grab your free ecopy, PDF file, HERE. Grab your free Kindle copy HERE. Or, if you prefer, you can purchase a print copy HERE. If you’d prefer to order this book through Amazon, you can do so HERE.

 

Intentional growth

Why Do We Ignore Warning Signs?

The locker room sign warned gym guests, “lock up your valuables!” Yet as humans, we grow overconfident and are tempted to be careless with our belongings, leaving them accessible and vulnerable. Every week, someone would saunter over to the gym check-in desk I worked at, wondering if their valuable item had been turned in. Usually, it wasn’t in the lost-and-found. “Bummer,” they’d say, “I need to remember to bring my lock from now on.”

“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11)Stories in Scripture serve as examples to show us what to do and what not to do and how we can please God. Click To Tweet

We see warnings posted every day, practical signs to keep us out of trouble. And despite the reminders, we get overconfident, and pride tempts us to ignore helpful advice, believing a tragic consequence simply won’t happen to us.

WL-BibleQuote-Web

Since biblical times, people have been tempted to ignore practical wisdom. In 1 Corinthians 10:11, Paul reminds us that although God guided the Israelites to the the land He’d promised them, they chose convenience and pleasure—money, sex, and unhealthy relationships—over God. Today, We’re tempted to sooth anxiety with an irresponsible shopping binge, to ease loneliness by calling on an old flame just to feel temporarily wanted, or excessively chase corporate status, even if that means sacrificing our family.

Yet, Scripture tells us, “… when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13b)

In spite of these temptations, God always gives us a way out. The Bible is our guide with instructions for “exit routes” from unhealthy behaviors, helping us align our actions with God’s will. The Bible provides exit routes when we're tempted. Click To TweetWrite down your favorite scripture verses and place them in prominent places as reminders of a way-in to God’s guidance when you need a way-out of your temptations.

Conduct an online search for verses that speak to your weakest moments, where can you write and post them to remain firm in healthy choices?

KelliScriptureQuoteWEB

Share your thoughts in the comments below, so we can learn from and encourage each other. And make sure to engage with us on Facebook and Instagram where we post daily snippets of encouragement.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Intentional growth

Becoming Like the One We Love

Becoming Like the One We Love

by Wholly Loved Editor, Yvonne Anderson

My daughter rolled her eyes and groaned. Once again, the mother of one of her friends told me, “I can tell she’s your daughter. She looks just like you.”

Being in my early 40s, I enjoyed being told I looked like my sixteen-year-old, but she obviously didn’t like it. That’s why I laughed when her tween-aged daughter recently looked back and forth between us and declared, “You look like Mom!”

The same is true of God’s children. No matter what our size, shape, or nationality, every Christian will look more like Jesus as we mature. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him…” 1 John 3:2, ESV.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Corinthians 13:11, ESV). When we “grow up” spiritually, we come to resemble God.

As spiritual children, we shouldn’t expect to be carried our whole lives—we must get up on our feet and walk. Instead of being content to let others spoon-feed us, we should learn to study the Bible on our own. Rather than hanging back, we’re called to put aside our fears and follow God into new experiences.

Many years ago, a pastor shared a beautiful illustration of this. He told of the first time he took his young son, Jay, swimming in a lake.

The father picked the boy up and slowly walked out into the shallow water. Jay hung on tightly. When the water reached his little feet, he pulled his legs up higher and whimpered. The father continued wading away from shore, the water rose higher, and the child screamed in terror.

His father, of course, knew the child was safe. “It’s okay! I’ve got you!” But the boy continued to cry.

His father stood still, waiting for his son to calm down. “It’s okay. See? I’m holding you. Don’t you know I won’t let you go?”

Jay screamed all the louder, refusing to be comforted. His father felt anger rising within. What’s the matter with this kid? Why doesn’t he trust me?

That’s when he saw the scenario as an analogy for his own life—for all our lives. When the Lord encourages us to grow up, to put aside our fears and trust him, we’re not always willing to do it even when we know it’s to our benefit. We’re afraid to trust the Father who holds us despite His assurances, “I will never let you go.”

If we will only trust Him, He’ll teach us to swim in the turbulent waves of our world. After Image of woman in the oceanwe’ve practiced, people who see our strong stroke will say, “I can tell you’re His child. You’re much like Him.”

Let’s talk about this! In what ways are you afraid to grow up spiritually? To what do you hold tight like a child with a security blanket?

If you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content sent directly to your inbox, and want to stay up-to-date regarding what’s new with us, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly e-mailing. You can do that HERE.

And make sure to connect with us on Instagram and Facebook!