How Do We Grow and Mature?

For most of my life, I thought when I reached a certain age I would somehow magically achieve emotional and spiritual maturity.  Later I discovered that in order to genuinely grow and put my childish ways behind, I had to learn how to love.  The Apostle Paul states, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man [woman], I put childish ways behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11).   When I located this particular verse in 1 Corinthians, I found that it was placed in a chapter which includes a great deal of words about love.  If we are growing both emotionally and spiritually, I learned we will be able to display a kind of love that is described in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 reminds us, “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  Displaying a mature and unselfish love like this can be difficult.  We are constantly in a battle against our sinful, self-centered nature.  However, as believers we can rejoice because there is hope!  If we fix our eyes on the Lord and become filled with the Spirit, we will be given the strength to display mature, Christ-centered love.

If we desire to grow and love maturely, it’s essential we invest time in our relationship with God as well as others.  I strongly agree with what the pastor at my church wrote, “…we cannot grow effectively by studying the Bible ourselves; we need each other to grow!”  It can be frustrating trying to change all our immature ways.  I feel like a failure when I make the mistake of responding to a circumstance or person in a childish manner.  I am so thankful for the many strong believers in my life who encourage me to grow, who inspire me to follow Christ, and who remind me to experience God’s love and forgiveness.

When we learn how to take the continuous journey towards emotional and spiritual maturity, we will discover God has given us a special life story to share.   Writing down our thoughts is a great way to organize and remember our unique story.  I confess I used to dislike writing and would dread writing assignments that were required of me in school.  However, as I started to grow in my walk with Christ, I began to have an intense passion to share with others what God was teaching me.  As a result, I began to record my answers from the Lord through journaling.  Something very much like journaling is modeled throughout Scripture.  For example, David cries out his pleasant and unpleasant feelings to God in the Psalms, King Solomon wrote down the wisdom God gave him in Song of Songs, and the Apostle Paul wrote words of encouragement and accountability to church members in many books in the New Testament.  In conclusion, whether we write or speak about our journey towards maturity, it is important we remember what God is teaching us along the way and share it with others.  As a result, we will grow both emotionally and spiritually.