My friend Ted told me that, “Everyone is still 12 in some area of their life.” Boy is he right. I pastor a wonderful church and have the privilege of preaching just about every week, yet I still get mad when my kids leave their junk in my car or when my wife leaves the bathroom cupboards open. I still occasionally throw a temper tantrum when I get cut off in traffic, or when I show up on time to a doctor’s appointment, only to wait for an hour in the lobby. Yeah, I’m pretty much still 12 years old in those areas.
My guess is you are still 12 in some area of your life as well.
One of my friends can’t stand it when his kids lose the remote control to the T.V. He parades around, demanding everyone, including his wife, complete a search and rescue operation. Even his dog looks like he is searching for something during one of these operations. Yup, he’s about 12 when it comes to his remote. Another female friend turns into a drama queen when she’s stressed out. You would think she is auditioning for iCarley on the Disney Channel. Yup, she acts 12 when stressed out.
The apostle Peter says: “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:1-3).
What is he saying here? Peter is saying that anyone who struggles with malice (desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another, either because of a hostile impulse of out of deep-seated meanness), deceit (the act or practice of concealing or distorting the truth for the purpose of misleading; fraud, cheating), hypocrisy (a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess), envy (a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.), slander (defamation, a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report), is still spiritually 12 in these areas.
Admit it! You still have areas where you act 12.
The good news is that we have room to grow. Like newborn babies we are to crave pure spiritual milk so we may grow up in our salvation; in other words, we are not to act like we are 12 forever.
I am learning to be more patient with my kids and wife, and to handle those unpleasant situations differently. Unfortunately every time I grow up in one area, I realize I am still 12 in another. This is the process of spiritual growth. The real problem occurs when we become content to act like a 12 year-old and justify our actions by saying, “That’s just the way I am.” Not really; that’s just an excuse. At some point you grew up in most other areas of your life, why can’t you grow up in this one? The truth is, you can.
The Apostle Paul says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). It all starts here: Renewing your mind by focusing on Christ and taking steps to follow Him in every area of your life. This is a lifelong process. Take it one day at a time in the areas where you struggle, focusing on Christ and allowing Him to transform you mind. Continue to do this and you will eventually grow up and even reach maturity in that area.
You can mature, you can grow in your faith, you can walk with Christ in every area of your life and grow past the emotional age of 12. And if you find yourself alone playing in the sandbox once in a while, take a deep breath and give that area back to God. He will help you grow again.
John Braland is the Lead Pastor for Freshwater Community Church.