One of our major goals as teenagers is to gain independence. To do this, we have to learn responsibility and realize what it means to care for ourselves. Growing in our spiritually is an essential part of caring for ourselves. God created us to rely fully on Him. We are not meant to be independent, but rather we are supposed to be mature.
Maturity is a word we do not often use here at niNe. magazine because it is a word that is often distorted and misunderstood. Our society has defined maturity as being “experienced” – delving into situations and circumstances that are meant for adulthood such as sex, alcohol consumption and engaging in R rated media. Sometimes we’re thrown into these situations unintentionally. When we’re in these circumstances we feel like we’re expected to handle it. Often, the people around us don’t respect or honor the maturity of the situation, making it difficult to know how to respond. Our actions don’t make us mature. Our actions stem from our maturity. When we’re engaging in mature activities before we’re ready, then we’re demonstrating our lack of maturity.
Our society calls us to be mature in the things of the evil one (i.e. sex before marriage, foul language, alcohol consumption, etc.), but God has called us to be infants in these things. In 1 Corinthians 14:20, Paul says, “Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking, be mature.” (ESV) This is the exact opposite of what the world expects of us. God wants us to be immature when it comes to evil. He wants us to be naïve and inexperienced. When it comes to sin, it’s better to not know Satan’s intentions and to be free from his influence. But, when it comes to the things of Christ, it’s better to be intelligent – to have significant understanding and to be fully aware of who God is and His plan for this world. Wouldn’t you rather be smart in things that are good rather than in things that are evil? Wouldn’t you rather have a greater knowledge of God rather than insight from the devil? We need to be aware of Satan and his demons, just like an infant is aware of her surroundings, but we do not need to invest our energy and influence into his ways.
Most teens want to be mature, but until our brains are fully developed, we’re physically unable. By definition, mature means complete in natural growth, fully developed in body and in mind, settled, grown-up, adult, stable. Our brains are not fully developed until we’re in our mid to late 20s. Therefore, according to the definition of maturity, we cannot be mature until we’re about 30 years of age. No matter what we experience in life, our physical body isn’t completely grown until then.
While we’re physically growing in maturity, we must keep our hearts, minds and bodies away from the ways of the devil and preserve ourselves for the Lord – pursuing maturity in Him always. Then, when we are physically mature, we’ll be capable of being spiritually, mentally and emotionally mature as well. To reach full maturity, we must actually have a strong understanding of who God is and our identity in Christ. The more we can grasp that reality now, the more we will benefit as we become a mature age.
Few people in America have actually reached their fullest maturity because they lack an understanding of their creator. To reach our fullest potential, we must accept our identity in Christ. As we engage in a deeper relationship with Him, we will quickly launch ahead of the rest when it comes to our maturity. If we know our creator better, then we will know ourselves better as well. Knowing how to be complete, stable, grown-up, settled, stable and fully developed through Christ is the first step to maturity.