Ready, set, grow Part 2
Last week we started a discussion on maturity as described in the book of James in the Bible. The first test of maturity is, “How do I react to problems?” Every problem in my life can either be a stepping stone to further maturity or a stumbling block holding me to immaturity. That is the choice we make.
The second mark of spiritual maturity is found in James Chapter 2. A mature person is sensitive to people; their hurts, needs and feelings. The second evaluation question is, “How do I treat other people?” In James 2:8 he writes, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” In Chapter 2, he gets specific about how to treat other people.
In verses 1-3 he says, “Don’t show favoritism.” Don’t look down on other people. People who are snobbish are immature. In verse 4, he says, “Don’t judge other people.” In verse 6, he writes, “Don’t dishonor or exploit other people.” And he sums it up in verse 8 by saying the second mark of maturity is love. Immature people are insensitive to others. The essence of spiritually immaturity is thinking about yourself first; focusing on your wants and needs while ignoring the needs of others.
The third mark of maturity, found in Chapter 3, is mastering our mouth. Oh no. This may be trouble for all of us. James 3:2 says, “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say, is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” A mature Christian has mastered his mouth.
The third question to test your maturity is, “Do I control what I say?” If you go to the doctor, one of the first things you are asked is to “Stick out your tongue.” When God, the spiritual doctor, looks at our health, one of the first things he will look at is our tongue.
In Chapter 3, James states, if you are controlling your tongue, you are moving in the right direction. In World War II, there was a saying, “Loose lips sink ships.” James says loose lips can destroy people’s spiritual lives as well.
A lot of people’s lives have been deeply hurt by people saying the wrong things. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a lie. What people say does hurt. The way we talk to people can either lift them or destroy them. In verses 3 through 11 in Chapter 3, James uses six different illustrations regarding the tongue.
He says, your tongue is like a bit in the mouth of a horse. A little bit can control a giant horse and your tongue has the power to control your life. The tongue is like a small rudder on the back of a huge ship. It can control the direction of the entire ship. The way you talk influences the entire direction of your life. If you can’t manage your mouth, you’ve missed the point of spiritual maturity.
Let’s be sensitive to the needs and circumstances of the people around us. Let’s pause before speaking, asking ourselves, “Will these words build up or tear others down?” God bless you. See you next Sunday!