Characteristics of Maturity, Part III
In concluding our series on maturity, we have discussed the need for emotional maturity as this affects all relationships; for accepting personal responsibility for every area of life as this affects all actions and behaviors; for being personally honest with one's self, others, and God so that we will lovingly follow the truth at all times and be able to have intimacy in close relationships; and for the need for spiritual maturity so that we have a genuine and meaningful relationship with God.
Last, but certainly not least, is love, unconditional love. To genuinely love God, others and myself is the highest and noblest fruit of maturity, and as long as I have a need for growing in love, I have a need for growing in maturity.
To love unconditionally doesn't mean that we necessarily like others or what they do. It means that we accept them as fellow strugglers and fellow sinners because, in God's sight, we have all sinned and fallen far short of his standard of holiness.5 It also means that we don't try to fix people or give them unsolicited or unwanted advice. It means that we are there for them should they need us; to listen to them; and to accept them for who they are even while we may disagree with their manner of life.
In one of my live-in week retreats some time ago there was a lady whom I will call Josephine who was furious at me because I had called homosexuality sin and an abomination in the eyes of God. She angrily blurted out to me in front of the entire group, "You are nothing but a pharisaical religious _ _ _ _ _ _ _!" I admit that I was somewhat taken aback but answered calmly, "Yes, sometimes I am." This of course defused the situation.
Josephine was gay. Privately I assured her that while I disagreed with her lifestyle, I did love and accept her. At the end of the week, having lived in with a group of Christians—none of whom judged or rejected her—Josephine came to me and said, "Maybe you are right after all," and then she hugged me warmly. Amazing. This may have been the first time in Josephine's life that Christians hadn't judged, criticized, or rejected her.
If fellow sinners are going to come to Jesus, while we disagree with their actions and behavior, we need to show them unconditional love and acceptance. A tough call to be sure, but unconditional love is the highest fruit of Christian maturity. "Tell me whom you love," Houssaye asked, "and I will tell you who you are."
Let us remember, too, that growing in maturity is God's will for all of us. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "Him [Jesus] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me."6
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that your goal for me is that I grow in maturity in every area of life, so that I will learn how to genuinely love you, and love and accept myself and others in healthy and productive ways. So help me God. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
5. See Romans 3:23.
6. Colossians 1:28-29 (ESV).
Note: This series has been adapted from “Characteristics of Maturity” online at: Characteristics of Maturity: http://tinyurl.com/characteristics-maturity
For further help read, “Dare to be Honest” at: http://tinyurl.com/dare-to-be-honest