Maintaining Maturity with Our Brothers
MATURITY is defined as ripeness, full development, fullness of growth. Basically it means perfection or completeness. There are various kinds of maturity: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. As Christian ministers we are particularly interested in spiritual maturity.
Spiritual maturity is not something that is naturally inherited, as some special talent often is, nor does it come naturally with the years as does physical maturity. It is something that has to be worked at, regularly and with diligence. But it is worth the effort, for the spiritually mature person manifests the fruitage of the spirit. He is able to resist temptations, is not easily offended but slow to wrath, patient, long-suffering.—Gal. 5:22, 23.
More than that, the spiritually mature person has a good knowledge of God’s Word, of His purposes and of His will for him. He is able to instruct and train others in the ministry; in fact, he is very much concerned with helping others and he himself is fruitful in the ministry. And, most important of all, he gains God’s approval, for he brings honor to God’s name. How fitting, therefore, the counsel found at Hebrews 6:1, 12: “Press on to maturity, . . . in order that you may not become sluggish, but be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises”!*
How can we attain to such maturity? First of all, by daily diligent study of God’s Word, even as God commanded Joshua. (Josh. 1:8) To progress to maturity we also need the help of the Christian congregation and therefore must heed the admonition not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. (Heb. 10:24, 25) After taking in knowledge we need to receive training in the ministry, even as the graduate of a medical school must first serve as an intern before he is licensed to practice on his own. Regularly sharing in the preaching of the good news of God’s kingdom will also help us to advance to maturity. Nor may we overlook prayer but must “persevere in prayer.” (Rom. 12:12) In coming to God in prayer we want to come with due respect, recognizing Jehovah God’s greatness and our insignificance. And in our prayers we do not want to think only of ourselves but of others also.—Eph. 1:16-18.
In striving for maturity we must keep in mind also that maturity requires different things of different persons. It requires certain things of parents, of children, of husbands, of wives, of overseers, and so forth. It might be said that each such state puts a premium on certain qualities. Thus leadership, initiative and organizational ability are required of husbands and overseers more than of wives and children.
In striving for maturity we must guard against looking to men, for that will retard our progress. Why look to men when we have such a perfect example before us as Jesus Christ? What maturity he displayed in his intense love for righteousness, his complete hatred for what was bad! He was loyal to God and truth and showed it by his words and actions. He was unselfish and at all times obedient to his heavenly Father.
Having once attained to maturity, may we relax, fold our hands and think that the race is won, as it were? By no means! Maturity is easily lost unless we keep working at it regularly. Even as the same essentials of wholesome food, fresh air, sunshine, bodily exercise and enough rest and sleep that helped the youth to become a man are needed to maintain health and strength as a man, so with our spiritual lives. All that helped us to attain to maturity we must work at to maintain maturity with our brothers.
That maturity can be lost the Scriptures clearly show. There was King Solomon; he certainly was mature at one time but he lost it and died out of favor with God. There was Judas, who was chosen as one of the apostles, and Demas, the co-worker of the apostle Paul; but Judas and Demas lost their maturity.
How fitting, therefore, the counsel contained in our theme for the month of June, that we be concerned with “maintaining maturity with our brothers”! To maintain that maturity we must keep working at it, even as we had to work at attaining to it in the first place. And note that the emphasis is on maintaining maturity with our brothers. That will contribute to peace, harmony, building one another up and spiritual prosperity. And let us never overlook the chief objective of our maintaining maturity, which is that we might praise and bring honor to Jehovah God both by word and by deed.
For details see The Watchtower, July 1, 1963.