The Bible challenges us to “press on to maturity” (Heb.6:1). Maturity is not an easy thing, because it means leaving behind some child-like behaviour, accepting some stress, feeling pressure, and growing up. It doesn’t come naturally.
But mature we must, because God commands us to. That is one of the first requirements of taking responsibility. Immaturity is fine, for a baby. But as a child grows up, you begin to expect things from that child. What was OK last year, won’t suffice now. Why? Because in this way, we are like God, and should be; we expect improvement, from those who are capable of it. A child at two who throws his toys out of his play-pen in a tantrum, has not been compelled to face issues relating to maturity, and responsibility. He’s making the mistake of thinking that life revolves around him. It doesn’t.
[A society which has lost its vision… wants instant gratification…and is destined for poverty, is affected by] the existence of an outlook and a style of life which is radically present-oriented and which therefore attaches no value to work, sacrifice, self-improvement, or service to family, friends, or community.1
Maturity is essentially a matter of hearing and obeying. That is perhaps the most important part of child rearing. A child who has learned to hear and obey his father and mother, will be prepared to hear and obey God.
The children of Israel in the wilderness were chronically immature. They didn’t want to hear God, and preferred that Moses do that for them (Ex.20:19). That wasn’t a good sign. Being former slaves of Pharoah, they were essentially like small children, in terms of what they could cope with. They certainly couldn’t cope with much conflict, be it internal or external. Moses (under God’s direction) had to be careful where he took them, lest they get scared and want to return to Egypt (Ex.15:17).
Their immaturity had many manifestations.They were afraid, unbelieving, disobedient, idolatrous, rebellious and immoral. Furthermore, they seemed incapable of considering anything that might be a long-term task. For them, everything had to be short-term. They couldn’t see past their noses, and couldn’t wait. This placed them in conflict with God, and their attitude cost them dearly. God prevented them (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb) from going into the promised land (see Ps.95:10-11). Why? Because God has a condition placed, on those who receive His promises: “He who overcomes will inherit…” (Rev.21:7)
About ten years ago, an economics writer commented on the global economic difficulties:
There are only two examples from modern history of depressions such as this – the ’30s in America and the ’90s in Japan. Both times, the governments did stupid things. But this time, the U.S. government has outdone them all. They’ve committed $13 trillion to programs that make no sense theoretically…and have never worked when they’ve been tried.2
Why does this happen? It is an accurate statement that people get the government they deserve. Today’s governments are like their people: they behave like immature children. They only think of the short-term, and of themselves, meaning getting through the next election. They don’t want their people to face pain, because they don’t face it themselves. So serious challenges like debt or inflation or an economic calamity never get faced, but get deferred for another day. Like their people, they prefer the play-pen to reality.
But this is not the stuff of mature, godly people. Mature people know the problems of life which are many, have to be faced. They know that mistakes, which we all make, irresponsibility and other problems have to be faced, because to do otherwise is to invite calamity. Spilt milk has to be cleaned up.
It’s easy to identify the mistakes of the children of Israel, or even the mistakes of much of the world around us. But what about us? Are we responding to the commands of the Lord, to obey Him, and go onto maturity? This is the critical issue, if we want to gain our inheritance. But the promise of God is that He has a good plan for us, if we will put aside the attitudes of immaturity, and follow Him.
Capital flows towards those who believe in the future, who accept the burdens of time as an opportunity for personal growth and personal profit. 1
Like Joshua and Caleb, let’s go on to maturity. Yes, this will mean facing problems and pain. But there will be an inheritance for us.
1 Edward Banfield, “The Unheavenly City,” 1968, p.211.
2 Bill Bonner, Daily Reckoning website, 27/4/2009.
1 Gary North, “The Dominion Covenant,” 1987, p.131.