When my kids were younger, I loved taking them to the playground. I always found a noisy playground relaxing because, for that bit of time, my kids were totally occupied and not yelling, “Mom!” every two seconds.
One of my favorite things to do was watch my kids and the other kids interacting. If you watch children for a while, you will start to see their little social skills at work. It is fascinating just how much like adults they are, or maybe it’s the adults that are like the children.
Do you ever get the feeling that you are interacting with children when you are really interacting with adults? Do you ever have a moment when you look at someone and think, “How are they functioning with such immature attitudes, habits and mindsets?” Well, the truth is that can sometimes be said of all of us.
As much as we may hate to admit it, immaturity and childishness can creep into even the strongest Christian life. The real problem is that when we ourselves are acting immature, we rarely can see it, but we sure can spot it in the life of others. When we are acting immature or childish, it really hinders our walk with the Lord and our effectiveness for God. This is definitely something that should be avoided. The only way to avoid acting like an immature Christian is to check up on specific areas in our lives where immaturity flourishes.
What the Bible Says About Immature Christians
Let’s look at a few verses that deal with this topic to better understand what God thinks of this.
“14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”Ephesians 4:14-15
In these verses, it is clear that immaturity is associated with instability. A child is not secure in who they are or what they stand for. This is why they need their parents to help guide them. Adult Christians, however, should be secure in who they are and what they stand for. When we are behaving immaturely, it opens us up to being easily influenced in negative ways. Immaturity is often associated with being highly emotional.
We have all seen a child have a huge emotional reaction to something that seems small and insignificant. That child is basing their behavior entirely on their emotions. When you are acting immaturely and emotionally, you will be easily influenced in the wrong ways, just like it points out in these verses. You can be tossed to and fro. This is just a Biblical way of saying you’ll become wishy-washy. You will not know where you stand.
This is such a detrimental mentality to your Christian growth that the writer in Ephesians says, “Grow up!”
“1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”1 Corinthians 3:1-3
In this passage, Paul is telling the Corinthians that they are acting so immaturely that he cannot even speak to them as men, but rather as babies. He tells them he cannot feed them meat (spiritual teaching) he must feed them milk.
Paul is frustrated here because when Christians are acting immaturely, it hinders their spiritual growth. Paul was ready to give them richer spiritual teachings. He wanted to “feed them meat.” This means that Paul wanted to move beyond the basics with these Christians and take them to a higher level in the spiritual walk. He could not do this, though, because of their immaturity.
Just like you cannot feed whole pieces of cooked meat to a newborn baby, Paul could not deliver deeper spiritual truths to the Christians at Corinth because their immaturity was stopping them from growing. Now a newborn baby needs milk, but we would be very concerned if we saw a ten-year-old child only drinking milk from a bottle for food. We would immediately know there is a problem. However, we sometimes do not think it strange if a Christian has been following Christ for ten years and is still very immature. Both are a signal of a problem.
“11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”Hebrews 5:11-14
Here the analogy of milk vs. meat is used again. This time the writer points out that when a Christian continues in their immaturity they lose out on the opportunity to minister to others. These Christians should have already been teachers themselves, and yet they were still in need of having someone teach them.
This is like how you must take the time to spoon-feed a baby or toddler. Another person must stop everything they are doing so that they can make sure the baby is getting what it needs. With maturity that child is able to feed himself. With even more maturity that child would be able to feed another child younger than himself.
This is a perfect illustration for how as Christians we are to grow so that we can minister to others who are coming along. If we ourselves are constantly needing to be spoon fed because of our immaturity, how will we ever be a help to new Christians who are coming along?
Where Immaturity Flourishes
Just like with children, there are often areas in our lives where we are very mature and then areas in which we struggle with maturity. When I think of my own children, I can name you certain characteristics about their personality that are very mature. One of my children is very sensitive to always compliment others. He has a knack for knowing just the right thing to say to someone to lift them up and encourage them.
I’ve always thought it was very mature of him to even be concerned with wanting to cheer someone up this way or make them feel good about themselves. This same child, however, will also simply wander away sometimes in a crowd. To date, he is my only child I’ve ever lost on any occasion. So his maturity flourishes in one area and immaturity flourishes in another. I can give instances just like this for my other three children as well.
What I don’t like to admit is that I can give examples just like this in my own life too. For instance, when it comes to seeing through a commitment that I’ve made to someone, I am very dependable. I will be there on time, I will have the cookies I promised and I will probably stay to help clean up too. However, I also have a very immature habit of jumping to conclusions about things when I do not have all of the information.
I have often taken one comment a person made to me, which made me feel weird, and filled it with all sorts of meaning that it did not have, and eventually let that fabrication hinder my friendship with that person. This is really just my insecurity at work. So we are all a combination of immature and mature habits.
What the Lord wants for us is to, over time, move more and more of our habits into the mature category. It often helps to write down, honestly some of your habits that lend themselves toward immaturity. This may feel difficult at first because we don’t like taking an honest look at our bad habits. However, keep in mind that just you and God will see the list, so go ahead and be honest.
When you write down the areas in which you could use help, lay it out before God. Ask God to please take these areas and help mold you into a more mature Christian. Everyone’s list will likely look different, but let’s look at a few common areas where Christians struggle.
When we are constantly comparing what we have to what other people have, we are bound to start experiencing covetousness. God has blessed us each with individual blessings, which are handpicked for us. Those blessings are going to look much different from other people’s blessings. That’s okay. God may have decided that you should have a small house. God may have decided that someone else you know should have a mansion. You are to be content with what God has picked for you.
Now, does this mean that God never wants us to strive for more? No, that is not what it means. However, knowing when you are to begin striving toward more, and when you are to be contented with what God has already given you, is a fine line. The only way to know the difference is to listen very closely to the leading of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost will always lead the right way.
Covetousness can lead us into very immature feelings and ultimately actions. The best way to combat this type of immaturity is to keep a constant attitude of gratitude. Be thankful for everything that you currently have, and then and only then will God begin to reveal to you what else He has in store.
Pride is a destructive force which can be traced back to the beginning of time on earth. Even in the garden of Eden Satan tempted humans with pride. He led them into seeking to desire things that were above them. This was the original sin of Lucifer as well.
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”Proverbs 16:18
When our pride rises up it opens us up to all kinds of immature actions. Our pride can cause us to imagine insults and injuries that actually never exist. Our pride can make us damage relationships as we try to show up others and gain the upper hand.
Our human nature tricks us into believing that we must be on top or others will trample us underfoot. The truth is that God favors the humble.
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”James 4:6
When we humble ourselves before God, when we allow God to advance us in His time, and in His will, then we can cease from our grasping. Grasping is that behavior which makes us constantly stretch more and more after what we think will make us happy.
Getting our pride in check can drastically help us move toward more mature behaviors.
We have all seen a child have a melt down because they did not get exactly the toy or snack that they wanted. This is a classic type of immature behavior. Unfortunately, this behavior is not limited to little children. Adults, in their own way, can also pitch a fit when they don’t get exactly what they want, when they want.
Ungratefulness is always a precursor to covetousness. The moment we start being ungrateful we open wide the door to covetousness and all sorts of other sins as well. This is why God constantly encourages us throughout scripture to keep a spirit of thankfulness.
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”1 Thessalonians 5:18
Gratitude is one of the most powerful spiritual actions. Gratitude can completely transform your mindset and ultimately your life. Gratitude takes humility, though. Gratitude requires that you acknowledge that everything comes to you as a gift from God. Interesting how ungratefulness is related pride and also covetousness.
Laziness is not often a characteristic people consider when they are thinking about ways to improve their spirituality. God cares about the practical aspects of our lives as well. Laziness can drastically affect your effectiveness, not only as a Christian, but within many aspects of your life as well.
“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.”Proverbs 21:25
Avoiding your necessary tasks and responsibilities stems from immaturity. Children rarely want to take on their responsibilities as they should, but in order to be productive we must muscle through these feelings.
God can help us with this problem, but only when we also put in the effort as well.
Overcoming our immaturity is a powerful way to grow as a Christian. The most important first step is to admit that you have an issue with immaturity. This will take some humility, but the rewards you will reap are well worth it.
When we address our immaturity, then we are able to overcome issues such as pride, covetousness, ungratefulness, and laziness as well as others.