Do you think of yourself as childish or childlike? What do you think the difference is? Do you think of yourself as mature or immature? How would you define those terms?! Being a child at heart is different to being childish and immature. Can you still enjoy the ‘merry-go-round’, if that is what life is to you, or do you now look out to sea past the waves with a heavy and solemn disposition? Are your eyes still capable of childlike wonder or have the increasing years knocked the stuffing out of you?
- ‘I do believe in the old saying, 'What does not kill you makes you stronger.' Our experiences, good and bad, make us who we are. By overcoming difficulties, we gain strength and maturity’ – Angelina Jolie
- ‘Learning lessons is a little like reaching maturity. You're not suddenly more happy, wealthy, or powerful, but you understand the world around you better, and you're at peace with yourself. Learning life's lessons is not about making your life perfect, but about seeing life as it was meant to be’ - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
- ‘Age is the acceptance of a term of years. But maturity is the glory of years’ – Martha Graham
It is possible and actually desirable to be childlike and yet mature – but how? These two apparently conflicting truths are evident in God’s Will for you. Was it not Jesus who was indignant with the disciples for preventing little children from coming to him?
‘He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them’ – Mark 10:13-14
More than this, the Lord says at another time: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 18:3. Childlike then but not childish as Paul explains: ‘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’ – 1 Corinthians 13:11
Any caring parent looks for their child to grow up and become a mature adult. However, we can see in all societies that there are many immature people still exhibiting childish behaviour even though they have the bodies of adults. Sadly this is not only true in general society but it can also often be seen in churches where there are fall-outs due to immaturity. Like a fruit tree, the maturity of a believer is identified by their fruit seen in their behaviour, attitudes, words, reactions and the extent to which they are still self-centred.
Maturing for a cheese, wine and child of God all take time! It is through good parenting, trials, setbacks and difficulties that character is formed, maturity develops and a person can be seen to be living for the glory of God rather than for self. It is God’s Will that you become mature bearing the likeness of his son and yet still have eyes full of childlike wonder.
‘For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters’ – Romans 8:29
‘Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything’ – James 1:4
‘But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil’ – Hebrews 5:14
The plan for followers of Christ Jesus is that they all might ‘be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God’ for he is the one who is able to do ‘immeasurably more’! We are to become ‘mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ’, no longer blown off course by circumstances, bad teaching or emotions – Ephesians 3:19-20, 4:13-14
God our Father is for us so enjoy the outworking of his good, perfect and pleasing Will in your life.
TAGS – childish, childlike, mature, maturing, growing up