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“Seeking Maturity (iv)”

               The next occurrence of the word “mature” in the canonical order of the New Testament is also in 1 Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 20.  Throughout chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians Paul has been dealing with spiritual gifts in the church and their use and expression in the worship and assemblies of the church.  This seemed to be a real source of concern to Paul and a clear source of stress and conflict in the Corinthian church.  Their assemblies, frankly, appear to have been a mess.  They were chaotic, competitive, and even discriminatory.  Just read through these 3 chapters and you will see what is meant.  Appropriately, Paul sums up his teaching on this in the last verse of 1 Corinthians 14 (verse 40) – “But all things should be done decently and in order.”

               Well, matters like this certainly call for a great degree of spiritual maturity.  Assembly issues, worship setting issues, conflict – all these cry out for spiritual maturity to correct.  All of them arise in an atmosphere of spiritual immaturity – an atmosphere of selfishness, one-up-man-ship, “I’m better than you,”  “I want it my way.”

               One might go back to an earlier part of this same letter, 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, and note that Paul is concerned that these people are anything but mature, and the proof of it is that there is jealously and strife among them.

               So, 1 Corinthians 14:20 makes sense, does it not?  “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking.  Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”  Don’t be immature in your thinking, but mature in your thinking.  If you are going to be immature in anything, be immature in evil.

               Once again this contrasts the way of the world with the way of Jesus Christ.  The world talks about books, movies, etc. having “mature content.”  What it really means is it is full of evil.  I wonder how often Christians are more mature in evil than they are in Christ?  The apostle says we should be infants in evil.

               But, in the way we think, in our understanding, we need to be mature.  What do we learn from this passage about spiritual maturity?  Many things, perhaps, but one for today is the idea that in the church, in our assemblies, in our worship, mature minds must prevail.  If our behavior leads to strife and division and confusion, we are not in the Biblical sense of the term being mature.  “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” – 1 Corinthians 14:33.