Christian maturity is marked by obedience to Jesus. More than Biblical know how it is evidenced by loving God and others well. This love is sacrificial, void of self-interest, empty of malice, and overflowing with eternal concern.
However, if we are honest, you and I probably know a few representatives of Jesus who don’t exactly look or sound like that. Maybe even ourselves.
Instead, our experience of faith, personally and socially, is one where we find Christians living like they want to love but are often consumed by the emotions of the moment. When it really counts, we can fail to love God and others well.
This is what it looks like to be an emotionally immature follower of Jesus. Wanting to love like Christ, yet still being a slave to our emotions.
We know this to be true as we reflect upon our marriages, our friendships, our drives to the grocery store, and even as we pick up the phone to speak to that telemarketer. It’s not that we forget these people are made in the image of God and need to see Jesus through us…
It’s that we don’t care in the moment.
Your emotions are a powerful piece of who you are. They tell a story to all you meet and do life with. They will impact your ability to bring people to Jesus and draw closer to Him yourself.
Emotionally healthy people are those who are aware and in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They are acutely aware of their emotions, what is causing them, and have developed the ability to respond like Jesus.
This doesn’t mean emotionally healthy people are happy all the time. Emotional health isn’t void of real, raw, and intense emotions. Instead, it means you’ve trained your heart to filter your emotions through the Holy Spirit and make them obedient to Christ.
Today, you can’t become emotionally healthy through one post. But you can take one step in the right direction by knowing why you need it and taking some steps to get it. Let’s begin with the why.
Why You Need It:
1. You are not a robot.
You are not a robot. You are not a machine. No matter how many time management courses you take, apps you download, books you read, productivity hacks you learn… you cannot escape the emotions of your humanity.
You are an emotional being. You cannot be programmed to function as anything else.
2. You are blind
There is absolutely no way to live in this world in objectivity. To some extent, we will always be a servant to our biases. Our biases, which do change sometimes, have emotions. In some cases, our emotions can make us very short-sighted.
Someone wise once said, “Emotions are great advisers, but terrible decision-makers.” Emotions rarely, if ever, allow us to see the whole picture because emotions alone are only concerned with the self.
3. You can learn to see reality
There are many great things about the metaphor of us being on a journey. With a journey comes progress, new experiences, and new territory to navigate. There are a great number of unknowns and the only way to move forward is to deal with the unknowns in effective ways.
Maturity is the measure of how developed you should be based on where you are on any given journey. Learning to see in terms of reality is one of the greater measures of emotional and spiritual maturity.
4. Spiritual maturity is impossible without becoming emotionally mature.
WHY? Because spiritual maturity is all about your relationship with God and others. Our spiritual selves are a culmination of the entire self–physical, social, mental, and emotional. They’re like a bundle of sticks tied together. One cannot be separated from the others. Consider the pairing of these two quotes:
“Holiness is the discipline of facing the truth about ourselves.” “Truth is like wine–it does not appeal to children.”
In his Gospel, John writes about worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth. This is our true worship and they cannot be separated from one another.
Where to Begin?
You cannot grow in an area in which you believe you have no room to improve. It has been said that we only change under two circumstances–
- When we’re forced to
- Or when the pain of not changing becomes greater than that of changing.
I would argue there is a third and better option: we change because we want to be like Jesus.
Give yourself the gift of an outside voice who can see and explain things about you that you never could. Take a brave step and allow yourself to be cared for in a surgical and precise way.
3. TRANSPARENT FRIENDSHIP
The best kind of friend is someone with whom you can talk not about anything, but rather everything. Become vulnerable and open yourself up to someone you won’t feel judged by and with whom you don’t suspect an agenda.
Find someone you can be yourself around and the fruit will naturally come out of that at the right times.
Where you begin isn’t as important as simply starting. Take a step and begin moving toward emotional health.