Friday, October 21, 2011

Don't You Want To "Grow Up"?

Spiritual immaturity kills churches and believers. Immaturity is expected of a new believer but when that same believer refuses to "grow up" and remains immature after 10, 15 even 20 years they will be a source of heartache in the church. Many of us enjoyed being 6 years old, even 16 was good but I doubt those of us who are adults would want to go back there. We would not be accepted in very many places if at the age of 30 years we acted like we were 6 years old.

Can you imagine what would result if a police officer acted like a six year old, or a doctor, a judge or a mom and dad? Taking our place in society is a responsibility and requires maturity and wisdom. If this is true for the world how much more for the Body of Christ? How much damage do we do when we act, react, and make decisions without maturity and wisdom? It is our responsibility to desire to "grow up" in Christ so that we can take our place of responsibility in the Body.

The Corinthians had every gift and every blessing but they were a mess because of their lack of maturity. One example is relevant for us today:

If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? ... But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers. (1 Corinthians 6:1,6)

Most of us don't even think twice about this. We rely on our legal rights instead of thinking of what is best for the Body. We put our own interests ahead of the witness we are to Jesus' love. I have even heard pastors counsel people to take other believers to court instead of being willing to judge the matter for them. In fact, I doubt anyone in the Body would even consider asking the elders to judge a matter for them. We have really slipped in our understanding of the health of the Body. Paul points out the problem here:

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? (1 Corinthians 6:2-5)

You probably haven't even thought of it that way have you? We have denied ourselves maturity, of our responsibility, of the authority we have been given. We have allowed ourselves to be reduced to a building on the corner that runs a day care. We are neglecting our spiritual responsibilities in this world and are instead allowing the world to make judgement over us instead of relying on the wisdom and direction of the Spirit. We will judge this world at the end of the age as well as judging the angels but we shirk the responsibility of judging the trivial matters of this world. Crazy.

It gets worse. There is an underlying problem here. The fact that there are matters that need to be judged speaks about how spiritually pathetic we are:

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers. (1 Corinthians 6:7-8)

There's a radical thought for you: Why not rather be wronged? Why not just suck it up when you are cheated? If we are spiritually mature we understand exactly what Paul is saying here. If we are immature this thought makes no sense whatsoever. We have our rights. If we have been cheated or offended we have the right for justice. Isn't it a wonderful thing that our God decided on mercy instead of justice. Imagine if he had decided to give us what we deserved. Instead, in love, he paid the price for our offence. What are your rights compared to the salvation of souls? What are your rights compared to love for your brother? Instead of holding on to that offence it should be washed away by the forgiveness that comes from a heart possessed by the love of Jesus. That's maturity.

There can be abusers in the Church, wolves in sheep's clothing, but the previous chapter dealt with that:

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. (1 Corinthians 5:11)

In these matters you have been given the ability to judge, so walk in that authority and deal with things in the wisdom of maturity. We need to "grow up" and get on with our service to Jesus. It is time to throw off the immaturity of childhood and step into our responsibilities as adult believers. Of course maturity has very little to do with age and everything to do with the decision we take to grow up. Paul told Timothy to be an example for the believers and that is what we need, examples of spiritual maturity. You can be that for someone today, if you rely on the Word instead of your flesh, walk in the Spirit instead of the world and accept the authority you have been given in Jesus Christ.

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