(Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash)
"Aging is inevitable, maturity is optional". Most people would look at this line and think, "Wow! That's so true!" But interestingly, I have seen this line used both ways. Some people use it to decide that they want to stay "young" and to "live it up", whilst others point to the fact that we need to decide to mature, that it is a conscious decision. These are polar opposite views on maturity, and the thing that they don't agree on is whether being mature is the better option or not.
Why this difference in viewpoints?
I believe it comes down to what comes to people's mind when they think about "responsibility". The mark of maturity is the ability to handle responsibility. For some, responsibility seems like a weight; a burden. To be young and carefree sounds like a lot more fun. Responsibility is equated with stress and having to say "no" to fun stuff. For others, responsibility is simply a part of life. It is what you have to be able to handle in order for larger opportunities in life to come around.
Do you see maturity as having to let go of "fun"? Or do you see maturity as taking steps into a larger life of significance? Your viewpoint will greatly impact your deliberateness in maturing.
The truth is that the first viewpoint is a destructive one. It keeps you living in THIS MOMENT and this moment alone. It is so attractive because you feel like you're maximising your current moment. But what it fails to inform you is that this moment will pass, and another will come. And the new moment that is coming requires growth and maturity in order for the greater opportunities to be unlocked. If not, you stay at your current level. So many people have decided to live at their current level for the rest of their lives and have not seen the fullness of their potential reached.
The author of Hebrews puts it this way,
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:11-14)
Maturity unlocks more. We need to move from immaturity to maturity in order to step into the more that God has for us. On Sunday I spoke about the issue of self-control and impulsiveness. Maturity is marked by self-control because we no longer live out of the selfish desires that we have, and instead have the capacity to CHOOSE to live a higher life.
We therefore need to grow in our self-control to mature. How do we do that? Peter has this wisdom for us, "So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world." (1 Peter 1:13 , NLT). We prepare our minds for action, and EXERCISE self-control. We start by remembering that Christ has opened up that higher life for us, then we prepare ourselves to hold on to truth, and then we choose the life that we want.
"Aging is inevitable, maturity is optional." Perhaps we should see it as aging is inevitable, but maturity is deliberate.