By Philip S. North
If you were to walk into a house and visit a family who had a fifteen year old son sitting in the corner with diapers on, wearing plastic pants, and drinking milk out of a glass bottle, you would most definitely conclude that something was desperately wrong with that teenager, would you not? Why doesn’t he wear adult clothes? Why can he not feed himself? Why does he still look and carry on like an infant newly born? The only logical conclusion is that he is lacking in maturity for his age. How pitiful and hideous such a scene would be for one to view!
And yet you find the same thing so true of many Christians today. They are so much lacking in maturity as children of God. Maturity is a noun form of the adjective, mature, which means: “full grown; ripened; perfect; completely developed.” Once a faithful gospel preacher, after completing one of his sermons in a meeting, was approached by a short, elderly lady who was two seconds off of crying. She sniffed and she said, “you shouldn’t be so hard and rough on us babes in Christ that way!” Upon hearing this statement, the preacher then asked the elderly lady, “how long have you been a Christian?” Her answer came back: “32 years!!” What was wrong with her? Where was her maturity? What under the good name of heaven had she been doing all those years? Spiritually speaking, we are very able to see that she was no better off than that fifteen year old, mentally retarded teenager. If you are a member of the Lord’s church, I would like to ask you this question: “How much have you spiritually grown since your baptism?” A little? A lot? None at all? Not certain? Don’t know? Perhaps this writer may be of some help to you.
1 Peter 2:2 tells all new Christians to desire “the sincere milk of the word.” But is that all, friend? Can a physical baby grow on just milk alone? Such is not possible, anymore than it is for a babe in Christ to grow on simple milk (spiritual) alone. Look at Hebrews 6:1 if you please will: “Therefore leaving principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God . . . .” God wants us to grow as much as we possibly can in an abundantly good quantity of grace and knowledge (2 Pet. 3:18). How do we do that, gentle reader?
First of all, we mature by starting at the beginning-that is to say by finding out what God wants us to do, and that is by studying (2 Tim. 2:15; Jas. 1:21; 5:13,16). Then, after studying, we are to obey what God tells us to do in His Word. We should “be doers and not hearers only” (Jas. 1:22). We are to both hear and listen (and there is a vast difference between the two). But let us not forget to pray for strength and wisdom (Ac. 8:22 1 Thess. 5:17; Jas. 5:13,16). But then someone asks “Well, how do I know if I am growing and therefor maturing as a Christian or not?” Note these question, and answer them to yourself: (1) Are you just a little bit smarter on the Bible now than you were a year ago? (2) Do you feel a desire and need to study at least a half hour a day each day of the week? (3) Do you always seek to better your life a more pleasing one to Jesus? (4 Do you pray every day to God? These are but a few o the signs of constant growth and maturity. If you are doing these things, then you are showing signs of growth. If you are not doing any of the above, then the odds are 10 to 1 that you are stunted as a Christian, and it would be in the best interest that you take heed in what you need to do to grow, because you are spiritually retarded!
Looking at maturity in the negative, I wish to show you what I have personally witnessed as signs of in maturity. Does the following apply to you? God know the answer already. Here are the signs: (1) member who will pout (elders, deacons, preachers includes when they do not always get their way concerning activities of the church, (2) a person(s) spreading malicious gossip about someone instead of going to his face about the matter, (3) becoming angry with the preacher when he preaches the truth, and holding grudge when he steps on your toes, (4) disorder in business meetings, (5) the preacher refusing constructive criticism and not admitting his mistakes-especially those made in the pulpit, (6) members leaving threatening to leave, and worship elsewhere every tin a problem arises, (7) forsaking the assembling of any, service-and also making it a habit to do such, (8) members seldom or never getting their Bibles are examining what the preacher says-and seldom or never studying at home either, (9) being nosy (busybody) about the preacher’s work and how many hours he do, this and how many hours he does that, etc., (10) never at all speaking to visitors-or even their own fellow members, for that matter. Whether we appreciate being confronted with these things or not, these are all signs of immaturity! Do you see some warning signs among your own congregation, friend? What about a lack interest in cottage meetings, Bible classes, and person work? This is serious, reader! I am speaking here about your soul-about a home in heaven with the redeem when you leave this world.
Are you careful or careless? Just how mature are the members (as a whole) of your congregation? How mature are you? I love your soul and I earnestly pray that you love mine. Now let’s get in there and mature brethren! Let’s get out of our infancy!
Truth Magazine XXI: 2, pp. 21-22
January 13, 1977