There are few things quite so endearing as youngsters who go into great flights of fancy and make unrealistic claims, either about their parents—“My dad can do this” or “My mom is great at that”—or about themselves. It is not so endearing when it comes from someone aged 25 or 50! At that point, someone needs to say, “Act your age, for goodness’ sake!”
Just as we expect to see maturity in those who have been doing life for a while, and just as we know there are certain marks of maturity in the physical, emotional, and mental realms, so we should expect to see maturity within the realm of spiritual living. And if we are truly growing in maturity, Paul explains, certain characteristics will mark our life and our walk with God.
Most of our society is constantly urging us to be aware of what we are, what we have achieved, or how far we have come. In contrast, Christian maturity has as its beginning an awareness of what we are not. Where immaturity leads us to think of ourselves more highly than we ought (see Romans 12:3), maturity rejects exaggerated claims. It’s marked instead by a sane estimate of our spiritual progress. It’s not exemplified by lofty talk but in a life of humble, steady consistency.
In the old fable “The Tortoise and the Hare,” the hare goes flying off at the start of the race while the tortoise simply plods along. The hare is so convinced that he’s won the race that he decides he’ll sit down and rest, relax, and fall asleep. And as the fellow who started so dramatically falls asleep, the wee tortoise comes along—at the same pace, slowly, slowly, slowly—till eventually he is the winner and the hare is nowhere to be found.
It can be quite a challenge to be surrounded by spiritual hares, always leaping and bounding about, announcing their great aspirations and saying where they’re going, what they’re doing, and what they’re achieving. How dispiriting I find that as I simply try to keep on in the Christian life!
As a wise pastor, Paul doesn’t try to be the hare. Instead, he encourages us by saying, I want you to know that I’m a pilgrim. I want you to know that I’m still in process, still on the journey—that I still have plenty of ground to cover. Paul is pressing on toward the finish line, and he is urging us to do the same. Rather than a boast about a flashy start or impressive pace, his words are a call to resolute, repeated commitment to the basics.
Humility and consistency: these two are marks of the mature Christian life, which knows that by grace it has reached this far, and by grace it will press on to reach home. How will these grow as marks of maturity in your life?
1 Peter 1:22-25
22Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
1 Peter 2:1-6
A Living Stone and a Holy People
1So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
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