We Define Maturity

by Brother E. Stanley Jones

(This week’s devotion is from our 2023 Book of the Year, Christian Maturity.)

We would define a mature person as one who is able to function happily, usefully, and at her maximum capacity in a given situation. This definition needs correction at the place of “maximum capacity,” for it is possible to lay hold of capacities not your own, and to make them your own, through grace. But we will let the definition stand for the time being.

If this definition of maturity is somewhere near being accurate, then it is obvious that many of us are not mature; for we do not function happily, use fully, and at our maximum powers in our situation. Why? The temptation will be strong, and very ancient—the most ancient of temptations—to lay the blame on someone else: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Adam blamed God for giving him the woman and he blamed the woman for giving him the fruit; God and the woman, and not Adam, were to blame. Such an attitude showed immaturity. To blame others and our surroundings shows our immaturity.

The first step in gaining maturity is to accept the responsibility for being what we are. I do not deny our surroundings of people and place can and do influence us. But only that part of our environment to which we respond influences us. We do the responding. The choice is always ours. If you are a half-person with a half-life output, then it is because by a series of choices you have consented to be that half-person. But no one need be a half-person.

For both God and life will maturity. Life wills maturity. Within everything, from the lowest cell to the highest man, is an urge after completion, after fuller, more abundant life —everything reaches up after maturity. If therefore, we are not mature it is obvious that we are blocking the life urge within us. Somehow, some way we are choking those urges. And God, too, wills maturity. All His resources are behind those who will to be mature persons.

Prayer: O God, my Father, I cannot bear being what I am—half-made, half-baked, a half-person. So today I put my feet upon the way that leads me out of immaturities into Your wholeness, into Your abundance. Amen.

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My first step in maturity—I accept responsibility for what I am.