Characteristics of Maturity, Part II
Discussing characteristics of maturity we noted yesterday that having a well-integrated emotional life and accepting personal responsibility for every area of life are both essential characteristics of maturity. Today we will mention two more key characteristics. Next is:
Personal honesty. Another major characteristic of maturity that is vital for healthy relationships and meaningful living is personal honesty both with others and with one's self. Without personal honesty I don’t believe that intellectual honesty is possible. To the degree that I am dishonest and out of touch with my own reality, the more I will distort all other factors and truths to make them match my distorted perception of reality. On the other hand, the more honest I am, the clearer I will see all other truth, including God’s truth.
Personal honesty includes being in touch with and honest about our true feelings/emotions (many of which have been long since buried and denied). It also means being honest about our motives. This may be the most challenging area of personal honesty because most of us have hidden agendas, be they conscious or subconscious. Unfortunately, hidden agendas cause people to become disgustingly manipulative.
Being honest is being real, transparent, and authentic. It's a tough call but the only healthy and mature way to live. It means being known for who we truly are (warts and all) by at least one or two trusted friends. It allows us to see both our strengths and weaknesses that, in turn, will help us to develop and use our strengths creatively and work on overcoming our weaknesses.
Being honest is also God’s plan for each one of us. His Word says: "We will lovingly follow the truth at all times—speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly—and so become more in every way like Christ who is the Head of his body, the church."2 And again, "Surely you [God] desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place."3
Spiritual maturity. This will be seen, not in how well we know our Bible, how many church services we attend, or how many religious activities we are involved in (all of which are important when done from pure motives), but in having a healthy relationship with God. In fact, over-busyness in religious activities may be a cover-up of areas of immaturity.
Think of Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus, for example. When Jesus came to visit in their home, one can imagine how excited Martha must have been as she busily labored in the kitchen over a hot oven to prepare a special meal for their special guest. However, she complained to Jesus about Mary who wasn't helping with the preparations, but just sitting and visiting with Jesus. This sounds like a reasonable complaint to me. I probably would have been ticked off with Mary too. However, Jesus saw it differently.
Here's the scene: "But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him [Jesus] and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.' And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'"4
In our language, Martha may have been a workaholic keeping busy to avoid facing some painful issue/s in her life. On the other hand, relating to Jesus was more important to Mary than busily preparing a meal for him. What Martha and Mary were both doing was important, but what was more important was the motive behind their actions. It's good to do work for God but more important is our relationship with him, and that we have pure motives. Loving and relating to God is a vital part of spiritual maturity out of which genuine service is to flow. Service used as a way of avoiding any unresolved personal issue is not service, but a way of escape from facing reality.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please search my heart and face me with the truth of any and all unresolved issues in my life—including any past hurts, any areas of un-forgiveness, and every area of immaturity, and please lead me to the help I need to overcome so that I will become more and more like Jesus Christ—and mature in every area of my life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
2. Ephesians 4:15-16 (TLB) (NLT).
3. Psalm 51:6 (NIV).
4. Luke 10:40-42 (NKJV).