We all like to think that we are mature persons. I like to think that I am. However, to reach true maturity we must go through various stages, and many times we get stuck for years or even decades in one stage.
A person’s true level of maturity shows when they are insulted or injured. The immediate reaction is a cry for justice. So when a child is attacked, they return fire. “He’s bothering me. That’s why I hit him,” is the all too familiar excuse we parents hear.
Eventually, we understand intellectually that this is wrong. We can’t go around punching everyone that annoys us. If someone bothers us we measure our words and try to remain calm. And for the most part we can handle everyday situations with intellectual force. This is the phase where I have spent most of my time.
What happens though when someone hits a nerve? What happens when my adolescent son confronts me? For some, those of the opposite political party invite a special ire. Or maybe it is a brother or sister that we feel is making a serious mistake. Sometimes simply being cut off in traffic sends us into a fit of rage.
If you want to take a true assessment of your level of maturity, think of a person or situation that really bothers you. Examine your reaction. Have you regressed back to the playground mentality?
The root of our emotion is a cry for justice, but we want to take justice into our own hands. Deep down, we might even desire the death of the transgressor. At very least we would love to see them “put in their place”. Beginning with the death of Abel, much blood has been spilled from the rage for justice as we see fit.
The highest level of maturity — where compassion is the reaction to attack or insult — this is the way of Jesus. Once in a while we walk with him, but many times we don’t.
Jesus got mad too, in the temple, when vendors were selling animals that people could buy to offer as a sacrifice for their sins. He was furious at the notion that God’s forgiveness could be purchased.
We can never forgive or be forgiven with intellectual gymnastics. We stifle our cry for justice and pretend to be calm; while inside we cry out for blood.
The Lord hears our cry. He hears the cry for justice. In the most unexpected way he offers, once and for all, the blood that all our immaturity and sin cry out for.
Power, Love and a Sound Mind
This is not about being weak, accommodating or enabling. The strength required here is supernatural and only comes through prayer or perhaps by a special grace. True maturity is where all you want to do is give of yourself to help the other. This is not surrender, but victory in love. Here you act with clarity and decisiveness. Here you act with calm. Here you act with power and grace.
I pray to God to give me a mature heart. A merciful heart.