If you have heard the phrase “grow up” said as an exclamation, it was probably as a response to immature or inappropriate behavior from someone who ought to have known better. It’s used against the undeserving as a put-down as well, to cover the embarrassment of the one who said it, like when an adult harmlessly enjoys something others consider childish.

Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

Hebrews 6:1-2

The Bible is interested in a particular kind of child-likeness; Jesus commands it, in fact, and Paul reinforces it. There is a selfishness and arrogance that comes with experience. This could be described as tenure, the feeling that one has earned a place of leadership or “put in the time”. But that is the opposite of what Christian leaders should do.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Matthew 18:2-5

Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

1 Corinthians 14:20

But in terms of righteousness, there must be maturity in regard to understanding of God’s word. The Hebrew writer makes this very plain in the passage above.

Maturity is a mark of deep faith, of love for God and neighbor and an intentional seeking of God’s will in our lives. How many times can a preacher usefully repeat the “steps to salvation” or reiterate again the need for repentance to those who have already committed their life to Jesus? How many congregations are satisfied with such spiritual milk, never looking for solid food?

Grow up, for God’s sake! And fear a future of the church where those who ought to have been teachers failed to fulfill their duty to the Lord and the lost by neglecting their own maturity.

Ethan Kirl