Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians tells us that we live by faith, not by sight. This means that even though we don’t see a thing the way God says it is, we live in accord with what God says rather than relying on our own understanding and wisdom. The reason this is true is because none of us are wise enough on our own to correctly interpret what we see around us.
The difference between a mature person and an immature person is that the more mature a person is, the more able he is to observe life and to judge it correctly according to what God says about it. This ability comes with a combination of concentrated study of God’s Word and time spent applying what he has learned. So an older man, having spent 40 years studying his Bible and applying it in his life, is almost sure to be more mature than a young man, who, though having diligently studied the Word since he was a young boy, has only lived into his 20’s. The young man can be assured that despite what he thinks, he is no match for a man who has the same training but many more years of experience. In addition, the fact that he thinks he has more wisdom and maturity shows that he doesn’t.
One problem here is that usually the immature person doesn’t know by experience that he is immature. He often thinks that since he’s had a class or has a degree or even an advanced degree, he is mature and therefore wise. This may be true if the fellow he is comparing himself to is his own age and has none of the graces God has given him. However, he must live by faith in the fact that God grants grace and wisdom to the humble, and not necessarily the educated or intelligent.
Another problem is that one can’t tell an immature person that he is immature. Of course, one can tell him, but he can’t hear what is being said. Maturity can only come over time, and immaturity won’t allow humility to show itself and allow the young man to trust that since he is young, he is therefore immature.
We see all of this very clearly when we have children. For example, who can forget the times their young daughter, authoritatively gave advice on matters that she really didn’t have an idea about? The three year old tells her mommy where the best place is to buy diapers, or the five year old gives his ardent advice on when it is best that he go to bed. As parents we see that they are goofy and have no idea what they are talking about. Children are often smart, but don’t have enough facts and experience to make mature choices and observations. The problem is that we often grow up thinking that every opinion we have is equally mature and full of wisdom. The fact is that the younger a person is, the less he or she knows and is thus less able to make a wise choice. One needs to take this bit of information by faith and trust that it is true.
The only thing sadder than a three year old thinking he has the wisdom of the ages is a 25 year old challenging someone 30 years older than he with his great wisdom. This is not to say that there are no 25-year-old fellows who are more mature than a 55-year-old man—I’m sure there are—but they are the exception rather than the rule. Moreover, if you think you are that rare exception, you almost certainly are not.
What is the remedy to this? Young people need to do what Adam and Eve needed to do in the Garden: trust that God knows more about life than they do. Believe those passages that say there is wisdom in older folks. Believe those passages that assert that there is wisdom in godly numbers. Especially believe the Bible when God has both godly men and several godly men in the same place at the same time. What I mean is this: suppose there are 15 men all in their late 30’s, 40’s and 50’s who are closer to a situation than a younger person at hand is. Then suppose these men think something other than what the young person thinks about that situation. In this instance, that young person needs to submit himself to God and submit to these leaders. One needs to humble himself and remember that he didn’t know as much ten years ago as he knows now, as well as to realize that in 20 years, when he gets to be as old as those guys, he’ll think differently than he does now. He then is to assume that those guys have been where he is and should let them do his thinking for him in this instance. Live by faith, not by sight