Immaturity

1 Corinthians 13:11: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child,
I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things
."

We begin our lives in helplessness and dependence.
An infant is the most helpless of all creatures, and that dependence lingers in some adults
throughout their lives.

As emotional maturity is gradually achieved, we are no longer so completely, self-centered.
We become interested in the things and people around us.
Yet we may find in almost any walk of life men and women who are physically
and intellectually well-developed, but who remain emotionally immature.
They present a problem to themselves and to everyone else in their lives.

So what does God have to give to enable us to cope with this widespread problem of emotional immaturity?
It is here, and in so many other instances, that we see the amazing relevance of the Bible.
For example, Paul repeatedly deals with that problem in his epistles.

When Paul is writing to the Corinthians, he tells them in his first epistle that they ace behaving
like immature children, and not acting like mature Christians.
His evidence of this is their quarrels and dissensions, the cliques and parties they have formed,
and the jealousies and resentments they have manifested in their striving
for self-glory and their lack of good morals.

He writes: "But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men… but as babes in Christ.
I fed you with milk, not solid food: for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready
."

Paul reaches the climax of his argument in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians
where he provides the sovereign remedy for spiritual and emotional immaturity
– and that is love – Christian love.
He sums it up in his own experience:
"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child;
when I became a man, I gave up childish ways
."

When we speak and think and reason like children, we are manifesting our inability
to deal appropriately with life.
Let's look at how this emotional immaturity reveals itself in our society.

First, immaturity is responsible for much of the instability of families.

One immature person in a marriage can cause great damage to the peace and harmony of home life.
But when both parties are immature, the result can be disastrous.

In such a situation each one is determined to have his or her own way regardless of the consequences
and without considering the sufferings that might be imposed on others.
Each one is watching for every possible hurt or offense at the hands of the other
so that they might indulge in self-pity.
Each one seeks to punish the other by employing foul moods, sulking,
or a complete refusal to engage in conversation.

Immature people can never admit that they have been in the wrong.
Their insecure ego must be always be protected.
Pride in immaturity says, "Don't admit that you were at fault, or even equally to blame,"
but love says, "Speak the healing word and everything will be well.

"It is the little rift within the lute
That by-and-by will make the music mute.
And ever widening, slowly silence all."
– Tennyson

But love can heal that rift.
Paul says, "Love is patient and kind; love is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful
."

Let Christ come into your heart, and your home will become in truth "a little kingdom ruled by love."

Secondly, a further manifestation of immaturity is the lack of self-discipline.

Someone may tell you to obey your impulses, but doing so will cause chaos in your life.
It will leave you at the mercy of your inner drives and desires.
To let desire rule is to be less than mature men and women.
Just as soon as we lose the power of controlling and directing our lives, we began to deteriorate.

The child acts according to impulse.
A mature adult acts according to reason and moral considerations.
It is not good to speak and think and reason like a child.
When we reach manhood and womanhood, we must give up our childish ways

Periodically, we need to pull ourselves together so that we may become discipline.
Are you building a self-reliant, courageous character that can confidently meet life's choices?
That is the test of your maturity.

The Christ-mastered man, such as Paul, is the only truly, self-mastered man.
When you study the life of the apostle Paul you can feel a sense of his consciousness
of an inner power through a unified life .
It should challenge us and inspire us to hear him say: "I am not going to let anything master me."

Thirdly, in interpersonal relations, the spiritually mature person is a purveyor of goodwill
and understanding
.

This is true whether it be in a school or a college, a church or a fraternal society, a bank or a store,
a factory or an office.
Life is lived under increasing pressure, and life proceeds at a high rate of speed.
Every person finds himself or herself gripped by tensions at times.
Nerves get upset.
Tempers are strained.
Patience is sometimes exhausted.

It is so easy under these circumstances to revert to the early infantile emotional reactions,
and to behave like naughty children.

At times we can become so childish in taking an unfair advantage of other persons such as,
repeating unkind gossip we have heard, believing the worst about people,
resenting the advancement that comes to others, and expecting glory in any that comes to ourselves,
seeking always to dominate other people rather than serving them,
judging others by more rigid standards than we apply to ourselves,
exposing the faults of others instead of trying to correct our own.

Love is the remedy for those immature reactions.

When love fills our lives, we are no longer preoccupied with their own petty concerns.
Here and always – Christ is the answer.

His Spirit within creates mature Christian personalities who can say with Paul,
"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child:
but when I became a man, I gave up childish ways."

They'll Know We Are Christians

"We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love.

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we'll guard each one's dignity and save each one's pride
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love.

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
And together we'll spread the news that God is in our land
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love.

By our love, by our love
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love."
-- Carolyn Arends

"Love is patient, love is kind.
Never boasts, not full of pride.
Always hopes, always trusts
The evidence of Christ in us."

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White