Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, addresses maturity within the context of explaining faith, hope and love. This is the way he describes it: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11).
Consider that if one is mature, then that person has ideally reached full development and is spoken of as being an adult. There is an assumption that such a person is likewise emotionally mature.
Unfortunately, merely growing into adulthood does not guarantee that one has indeed put away “childish things.” Likewise, just starting on the path of Christianity does not automatically mean that we will reach the kind of spiritual maturity that God requires. Ephesians 4:13 presents this goal for us: “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
We have been given the Holy Spirit to help us achieve this kind of development in our own lives, but we must still grow. In fact, we must overcome much if we are to come to “the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
Hebrews 5:14 cautions: “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age (mature), that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Jesus Christ did not live in the flesh to become an old man. It appears that he died as a young man around thirty-three years of age. Yet, in His short lifetime He achieved complete maturity. He did this by His total obedience to God’s will (Hebrews 5:8-9; 2:10). He never compromised with sin. He recognized the evil, but He always chose the good.
Many among the modern nations, which embrace the idea of Christianity, also follow the very dangerous concept that all that is required of them is to “accept Christ.” If they truly did accept Christ, then they would also do all that Christ, both by example and by command, instructs. They would not simply become infatuated with the ideals of Christianity, but they would indeed begin and then continue to grow in the same kind of Christian maturity that holds the promise of eternal life.
Paul gave testimony to this end when he spoke of his own approach: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended (laid hold of it); but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). Then, adding this thought in verse 15: “Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind…”
Maturity takes some seasoning. If we place spiritual maturity as our goal, then we must do all that is required to reach that goal. The examples from the Word of God that have been left for us also reveal that there is struggle and great effort along with great reward in the process of becoming mature Christians.
The path to maturity is summed up for us in Philippians 2:5: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Not much room for “childish things” in this process!