I heard a sermon by Rodney Hogue. I wanted to share some highlights from that message about maturity. The stages of maturity mentioned in I jn 2 were children, young men and fathers. Each have characteristics. Each stage must be lived out.
The characteristics of the child stage are these: We start to understand that our sins have been paid for, we are forgiven. We are free from condemnation. We start to identify with Christ. The number one characteristic in this stage is RECEIVING. We know God as the giver. God uses our needs in this stage to teach us how to receive because we can only give as we recieve. There is no shame in being in the child stage. It is part of the maturity process. God gives the opportunity for us to take in nourishment and grow to the next stage.
The characteristics of the ‘young men’ stage are these: We are able to overcome the evil one. We are strong. The Word of God is with us. We are able to feed on His Word. We go from dependence to warrior. This is the conquering stage. While children ask, “what can God do for me?”, young men ask, “what can I do for God?” Again, there is no shame in being here. God grows us.
The characteristic of the ‘father’ are these: Knowing Him who is from the beginning, there is a great perspective. There is a focus, not just on his provision and activity, but on His nature. The father is about BEING. The father can endure because he knows there is mystery, that God has a purpose, that there is a bigger picture than himself.
It’s easy to see paralleled in our own physical growth. Children focus on receiving gifts and their identity is based on what they receive. Young men focus on conquering and activity and their identity is wrapped up in what they do. Fathers focus on Gods grace and the big picture. Their identity is in the attributes of God and who they are in Christ.
I was challenged by the fact that the trials and tribulations we face is one way that we experience growth. It is when we reject the truth of Gods Word, while in the trial, that our growth is halted. It takes humility and surrender to know that God has a bigger purpose, even when we don’t understand. We don’t always accept that. As a child we associate Gods love with his giving. When we stay in our “if God loves me,he will give me ____” stage, we lose. When we stay in the young man stage pushing ourselves in service, even when Christ is calling us to rest in Him, we lose. Children don’t understand conquering, young men don’t understand rest, fathers should understand because they see the big picture. Bottom line-trust God and He will mature us, and have patience with other believers in their journey toward maturity.