Slightly Obsessed #184: The Mark of Maturity
I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, for you were not yet able to receive it.
– I Corinthians 3:2
The infant finishes his bottle and smiles contentedly.
A trickle of milk courses down from the corner of his mouth. It’s a sweet scene because it’s what babies do. They are born with immature digestive systems and no teeth. Mother’s milk or formula are necessary for the child to survive and thrive. As they grow, their teeth begin to come in, their digestive abilities mature, and they can tolerate solid food.
Babies are supposed to grow up. God expects His children to become fully functioning adults, as well. Anything less is decidedly dysfunctional.
It’s easy to tell a baby from an adult. But what distinguishes a mature Christian from an immature one?
It’s not the achievement of perfection. Even those who have been disciples of Christ all their lives still battle the fleshly nature residing in their mortal bodies. But a mature Christian should exhibit growth.
The Bible tells us the mark of maturity is a lack of carnality. In the Corinthian church, the carnal features of jealousy and strife had rocked the congregation. In his letter to the church, Paul took them to task for creating two competing cliques: those following the leader Apollos, and those following Paul.
This grieved Paul deeply. Not only did this display their childishness, but it also deflected the glory rightfully belonging to Christ. Paul reminded them those working in a field may have different jobs in producing a crop, but only God has the power to give life to the seed.
When God directs the planting, we can expect fruit. We are all co-workers in the field and infighting only delays the harvest. Infants don’t work because they aren’t made for it. They’re totally self-absorbed in their own needs, and they don’t care who they inconvenience along the way.
In the same way, immature Christians accomplish little except making messes for others to clean up.
We all begin as spiritual infants. We just aren’t supposed to stay that way.
One of the greatest qualities of God is His patience. He gives each person what he needs to grow in spirit and in truth. God’s provision for His children overwhelms us in both its simplicity and its complexity. He gives milk to the child. He expands the difficulty of digestion as a person grows in understanding. The message of salvation is simple enough for the babe, yet deep enough for the sage.
And yet, it is not rooted in what we know, but in what we do. Are we the cause of heartache in others or the conduit of His compassion?