When I was a young lad running up and down a gravel road barefooted in Morehouse Parish, Northeast Louisiana, the last thing on my mind was maturity of any kind I was never going to get old! According to my own way of thinking maturity merely equaled getting along in years. That is one of the definitions of maturity, i.e. to be aged or ripe, just like some of the trees in the picture of took at Rainey Lake in Tensas River NWR. But that isn’t the kind of maturity I am talking about. As I did grow older, as we all do, I began to understand maturity in a different way. It wasn’t just about reaching a certain age. I have seen people in their middle aged years act very immaturely. And even some senior adults who do the same, thinking that they are acting young, when in actuality they were only acting…….immaturely.
How we achieve maturity? Does it just happen? Does it come with education or experience? I’m sure that those things contribute to a person growing in maturity. But just as the possession of knowledge doesn’t guarantee that a person will be wise, so is it that though a person possess knowledge and experience, they will not necessarily grow in maturity. I’ve even seen teenagers and young adults possess a level of maturity that someone more advanced in years doesn’t exhibit. Why is that? Is it a desire to be mature? Or is it just the result of a life well thought out and lived? Are there other contributing factors that we might consider?
God’s Word gives us an answer we might consider. As I introduce that statement, you may think I’m going to say something like, “One must be religious in order to show maturity.” Spiritual Maturity is certainly something about which a child of God should be concerned. But I think the scriptures can be understood to apply to all of life, not just to the Christian. So please consider this:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4 ESV.
The words “Perfect” and “complete” are descriptors of maturity. And here the author James says that maturity come as the result of something. It may surprise you what that something is. “Trials of various kinds…..”. And he isn’t talking about a one time thing; he means a whole series of events. One trial after the other that we encounter in life CAN bring us to a certain level of maturity. Sounds like the proverbial “School of Hard Knocks” doesn’t it. Well, that’s exactly what he means. If we think about that, we come to realize that is why so many people with a little age on them have come to a level of maturity. They display it in their lives because they’ve been there. And they have allowed those trials of life to teach them how to live and how to prepare for the next thing. But some people never learn. They encounter one trial or bad experience after another and instead of learning to adapt, they only complain or blame someone else for their misfortune. In the scripture we read, “LET steadfastness (which is a product of the trial) have its full effect.” We need to ask ourselves, “What did I learn from that terrible time through which I just went?” As horrid as some of those trials maybe, they can still produce maturity within us.
I wished that I could say that I am more mature because I’ve allowed the trials that I have gone through in life to produce its full effect in me. But I can’t. But I also thank the Lord that I have allowed many of the other trials which I have gone through to produce some maturity in me. I haven’t arrived yet. But I am still aiming for it.