Monday, July 9, 2012

grow up

'grow up'
'act your age'
i have found myself saying this to my children, my husband and people who cut me off while driving (not to their faces, of course).  i've said it under my breath to people in public places whose behavior reflects the fact that they don't seem to realize they are actually in public.  i began thinking about this from a spiritual standpoint and realized how accurately it represents where many christians are in their relationship with God. they maintain a course of childish conduct, from attitudes to actions,  remaining complacent in their growth and apathetic in their pursuit of righteousness.  i absolutely hate to admit it, but i have found myself in the fetal position a time or two. or three. or more.  acting like a big baby that still craves milk, cries when she doesn't get her way, and crawls around on the floor when she should be standing on her own two feet,, running!

i love the way Paul puts it in Hebrews 5:12-13.  he says ' have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. you are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. for someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.  solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.'

Paul is saying...' get with it! grow up! you know what to do, now do it'. 

children who haven't yet learned, or who are in the process of learning, the proper way to behave have an excuse, but only up until a certain point.  once they come of age, more is expected of them.   sucking your thumb in seventh grade is probably not going to be tolerated.  as a grown up,  throwing a full blown temper tantrum in the middle of the office will most likely get you fired. the same is true where our relationship with Christ is concerned.  as a new believer, a certain amount of grace is given as you figure things out and find your way.  but once you've been at it for a while, the evidence of growth should be obvious. there should be a measurable amount of change visible in our lives as we continue to walk with the Lord.

in 1 Corinthians 14:20 Paul says, '...don’t be childish in your understanding of these things. be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in understanding...'  there is a big difference between being 'childish' and 'childlike'.  Jesus said, in Mark 10, 'I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.' i believe He means for us to be sweet and surrendered to God's authority in our lives, as obedient, trusting children.  

 finally, 1 Peter 2:2 ' done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.  like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. cry out for this nourishment...'

does that not perfectly describe our world and the childish behavior of so many today?  it's so easy to get caught up in a lifestyle that revolves around being dishonest, saying one thing but doing another, not being content with who we are and what we have, and being rude or mean... all for the sake of self. 

but friends, that is NOT the life Jesus means for us to have!  we are meant to grow and flourish, continually becoming more and more like Jesus.  letting the Spirit guide us into the sons and daughters of Christ we are meant to be.  

can you identify some 'childish' behaviors in your life?
what steps could you take to turn those into 'childlike' behaviors instead?

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