A TIME FOR MATURITY

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things: (1 Corinthians 13:11)

I remember hearing stories about children who would say, “she touched me,” or “he looked at me.” They would squabble over petty things such as crossing an imaginary line in a shared bedroom, or infringing upon one’s time in the bathroom. I thought it was just make-believe until I heard my own children do it. Now they are grown and have children of their own. I heard one of my children say that my granddaughters were saying the same things. It seems funny now to hear a three-year-old say, “she touched my things.

One way we react as parents is simply to roll our eyes and say, “just ignore her,” or “just get over it.” It may seem funny, at first, to hear small children say these kinds of things. It is not so funny, however, when adults act the very same way.

One way I hear this as a pastor is, “I used to go to church, but someone said something to me,” or “someone looked at me funny,” or “someone made fun of me.” I have talked to many people in my past 30 years of ministry who all have such childish reasons for not attending church. Someone looked at them wrong. Someone said something wrong. Someone made fun of their clothing. (I doubt that really happened. However, many people say it did.)

There’s a big difference between being childlike and being childish. Jesus says we are supposed to be childlike. We are supposed to be innocent, trusting, and pure. On the other hand, being childish means to be selfish, petty, and easily angered. That sounds like many people today who used to go to church. They used to attend faithfully until someone said something, someone looked at them, or they perceived that someone had made fun of them. So rather than being mature, they choose to violate the biblical commands that says we are not to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together” in Hebrews 10: 25. It seems as though people are simply looking for any excuse to drop out of church. One petty reason is as good as another.

Notice Paul’s words in first Corinthians 13 above. He said that when we are children, we act like children, we speak as children, and we think as children. However, there comes a point in our lives when we put childish ways behind us.

When I was a child, my sister and I fought tooth and nail. I don’t remember all the things we fought about. I just remember that we fought often and constantly. It was an exasperation to our parents and to our older brothers as well. Of course from my perspective, she was always at fault, and I was always right. You know she was the one always looking for trouble. Not me. I was the innocent one. I was the victim. After all I was the youngest.

You know I’m speaking facetiously. As a mature person, and now as a grandfather, I see these childish things in a different light. There came a time, however, around the age of 14 that I consciously remember choosing not to fight with her anymore. I said, “I’m not going to fight anymore.” And from that point on, all fighting between us ceased. That was more than 40 years ago, and we have not fought since. You see, at that point I consciously decided to put childish things behind me. We have gotten along well ever since.

Now is the time for Christian maturity. If you’ve been a Christian for many years, and you stopped going to church because of some childish reaction, now is the time for you to grow up and become a mature Christian. What do mature people do? They overlook insults. They ignore hateful looks. They do what needs to be done because it is right, not just because they feel like it.

As the Apostle Peter says, we need to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter3:18).

 

We also need simply to grow up. We need to quit making childish excuses for not obeying our Lord and Savior. We need to attend church and Bible study so that we can grow in grace, and grow in knowledge.

What excuses have you been hiding behind to stay home from church on Sunday mornings? The writer of Hebrews says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). The us put childish things behind us, and do the mature things that we need to be doing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Need For Labels

As of June 1, 2016, all employers had to update their Hazard Communication program for the use of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. All physical and health hazards had to be identified, and the workers had to receive training, or the employers would be found in violation of the new Global Harmonization System (GHS).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) requires that all dangerous chemical containers be labeled. Employees who work with dangerous chemicals have a need and a right to know what substances they might reasonably expect to come into contact with in the course of carrying out their job duties. Even if they do not work directly with hazardous chemicals, in case of a spill or a release, they need to know what steps to take to protect themselves.

Labels are necessary to warn people of the dangers of the chemicals in a container, whether in a can, a fifty-five-gallon barrel or a train tanker car. That label must state what is inside the container. It must give the chemical name and characteristics of the substance. It must also warn of potential health hazards as a result of being exposed to that chemical. The labeling tells exposed workers what first aid measures to take in case of exposure. If a chemical could take your life or cause serious health hazards, you want and need to know before you begin working with that chemical.

Other dangers in life are not so easily recognizable. When I was in high school, a tract entitled “Caution—Religion Can Be Dangerous” caught my attention. (See: https://freegroups.net/guide/caution_religion_can_be_dange) Religions and philosophies can be dangerous, even deadly. They can be poisonous. The problem is that no laws in our country require religions or philosophies to be labeled that way, except maybe Karl Marx’s comment that religion is the opium of the people.

Our tolerant society refuses to put labels on anything religious, moral, or philosophical, so we hear such nonsense as, “All religions teach the same thing,’ or “We all worship the same God.” These statements simply show the unashamed ignorance of the person making the claims in politics and in the media. Sometimes when I ask people what church they attend or what their religious background is, they give such nebulous answers as “I don’t like labels,” thereby dodging the issue. One man told me, “I go wherever the Body of Christ meets.” It sounded spiritual, but how can you determine where the Body of Christ is meeting? How do you identify it?

As the tract said, “There are countless deadly religions and millions perish spiritually because of them. No wonder so many are lost! With each religion claiming to be the true one, how are people to know the real way to God amidst such a bewildering situation?” The Apostle Paul warned us in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (NASB). A person should be sure that he or she has not swallowed some poisonous religion or philosophy.

What is the “warning label” we should heed? Jesus said in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” We compare a religion or a philosophy by the standard of biblical doctrine. If it does not line up with biblical doctrine, it is toxic. Recognizing a danger is not judgmentalism; it means simple discernment. You have a need and a right to know what dangerous philosophies and religions you face. Your spiritual health depends on it.

If you must work with or around dangerous chemicals, your employer is obligated to train you in proper use and protection. He or she must also train you to read and understand the labeling system on the job site. In the same way, you need to be trained in how to determine spiritual dangers as well. This is the role of your pastor at church. One of the spiritual gifts that Christ gives to the church is the pastor-teacher. The purpose is to “perfect the saints for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:12). Your pastor’s role is to train you safely.