You know a ripe fruit when you see it. It glows or shines with a vibrant color. It looks delicious, plump, ample, and desirable. A ripe fruit, one that is ready for consumption, has attained maturity. It has reached its full natural growth or development, or its desired or final condition. When you consume that fruit, you are able to appreciate its maturity by comparing its outer appearance with its inner taste. Maturity is a true process for people as well. When a person has attained maturity, they have reached their desired or final condition, and are at the pinnacle of their growth and development. A person’s outward behaviors will be in sync with their inner condition.
It is usually easy to distinguish a child from an adult. Children are smaller. They haven’t reached their growth potential. They aren’t as coordinated as adults. Children do not yet have control over emotions, or intellect, or impulse. They throw temper tantrums. Their desires are misplaced. Ironically, this ability to distinguish between child and adult isn’t always easy. A teenager is a kind of child that looks like an adult, but who hasn’t yet attained self-control, doesn’t always have emotional or intellectual discipline, and often loathes restraint. In part, this is because their brains and hormonal systems, which we cannot see, are not yet mature. They look physically mature but aren’t. And even if they are approaching full physiological maturity, they haven’t yet had enough time or experience to develop that maturity and make it real through behavior. Then, there are people who have reached full physiological adulthood, who are no longer teenagers, who are viewed by society as grown, but who’s inner state is shackled to impulsiveness, emotional chaos, or intellectual laziness. These people have mature bodies, but immature everything else. In a spiritual sense, they are children.
Maturity of his people is an aim of God. It was for this purpose that he gave us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Their jobs are to help us reach maturity (Ephesians 4:11-13). The standard for that maturity is Jesus. It is evidenced by (among many other things), not being tossed to-and-fro by every new theological fad, being able to have appropriate anger, but no malice, having control of one’s speech and thoughts, being honest, and generally living in a way that reflects the life of Christ (Ephesians 4:14-32). You can reach that maturity by modeling Christ, as well as modeling other Christians who are more mature than you. As you reach maturity, your inner life and our outer life will both reflect the sweetness and power of God. You will become a colorful, vibrant, and desirable person because people will be able to meet Christ, when they meet you.