Written by Jill Redling
Have you ever breastfed a hungry baby? They are ravenous, grunty, desperately looking for their food. There is almost a panic, a wild frenzy. “Where is it, got to get it now!”
In Psalm 131:2 God gives us a picture of a weaned child. The panic and ravenous search has ended.
"I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content."
Maturity is the weaned child, who knows when he would like a glass of milk, he can easily ask his mother, whom he trusts, to get him that glass of milk. And maturity is also the child who when denied the glass of milk, doesn’t fight, but is calm and content at his mother’s side.
Maturity trusts both God’s giving and withholding as His righteous act of love.
We must learn to quiet our souls when the immature infant-cry in our heart wants and wants. We all deal with stress, pain, arguments, disappointments, boredom and all the other unfortunate realities of living in this fallen world. Our response to these negative realities are usually sinful and immature, because we learn how to cope, first as children and then teenagers. Some coping looks more destructive than others (drugs, promiscuous sex, alcohol, unrighteous anger), some more socially acceptable (shopping, manipulation, video games, silent treatment, cold shoulders, eating, social media). All are the desperate cry of an anxious child, looking for pacification.
God has more for his people than a pacified existence. Instead he offers maturity, trust, and peace through a total belief in God’s great love for us.
1 Corinthians 13:11 describes someone who has embraced the reality of God’s love:
"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways”.
How we speak, how we think, how we reason should be transformed (and transforming), by the power of the Holy Spirit as we understand more fully God and his love. It’s not boring. It’s not disappointing. It’s very exciting to come under God’s love and experience his sanctifying work. As we grow in maturity, His perfect love, which “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love [that] never ends” satisfies. The pacifiers are tossed in the trash. God is sufficient.
God’s love enables us to have a bad day and not run to (insert your pacifier here). Instead, God is everything, His way is best, His reality is my reality, and that calms us. Having “bad” days become less of a rug being pulled from us, because we’ve put less pressure on the day, ourselves, others, and embraced the Father in full trust.
Our circumstances (successful, or unsuccessful) don’t result in a temper tantrum, but a weaned heart submitted and surrendered to him.
I’ve embraced Him, His love, His truth, His people, so no matter the visible outcome, God is pleased. My dishes may be in the sink, but the patient discipline that leads my child to repentance for sin they committed was worth the loss of a clean kitchen. Sometimes we can get both, but sometimes the dishes get done and our child sulks in their room with an untouched, resentful heart. Our maturity informs and grows their maturity (and the people of God). And the warning is that our immaturity informs and grows their immaturity.
God’s love further empowers honesty and vulnerability, because I no longer have to defend myself.
His love defends me, and I don’t have to resort to sinful tactics of self-preservation.
I can talk and reason with my spouse without immature cold-shoulders, or record holding, or argument winning schemes that have nothing to do with what’s really bothering me. Instead, I can say, “I’m worried about this.” “This hurt my feelings.” “Can you pray for me about this?” This is the sweet freedom in Christ of walking in the established (mature) light and humility of Jesus’s example.
Ephesians 4 also offers insight into maturing in God’s love in the context of a godly church. Do you have shepherds and teachers equipping you well? The goal is that we are no longer children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, human cunning (“socially acceptable” pacifiers), craftiness and deceitful schemes (adapting to world systems that diminish God’s reality and love). Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head— into Christ—who makes the whole body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Infants crawl around sticking any number of objects into their mouth, they take the bait, they believe the lie.
The immature lifestyle is perpetuated with different pacifiers.
The baby never really grows up. He can be an old man, holding on to the same pacifier, arms crossed and immature.
Godly, mature men and women train up godly, mature men and women. Proclaiming Jesus’s death until He comes, partaking in the reconciliation won for us in Christ, enables his people (us), to become faithful, mature imitators of our great God, and walk in His love. Not as fussy, untrusting babies, but instead, the Lord is our Shepherd. We shall not want, because we have everything we could ever want in Jesus.
“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes delight in my ways.” Proverbs 23:26