Subject: “It’s Time To Come Off The Playground!”
Scripture: I Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)
“11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
Introduction – Most of you should remember your childhood days when you were in elementary school, and had the opportunity to go outside at recess, on the playground. You would meet up with your friends and play games, such as kick ball, soft ball, hide-n-go-seek, jump rope, and many other games. This was the time in our lives when we could just be a kid, and have fun. Everyone at some point their lived in this place called the ‘playground,’ but at another point in our lives we grew up, and moved on with our lives, and we found ourselves no longer interested in the activities of the playground. We closed that chapter of our lives and moved on, because there were bigger and better things to do. We can apply the same playground principles to our spiritual walk. There should come a time in our spiritual walk that we mature in God and come off the playground.
Tonight’s Scripture – Paul was speaking and teaching to the Corinthians about the greatest gift of all, which is love. Paul told them that without the perfect gift of God which is love, everything else meant nothing to us, or to God. Then Paul spoke to the Corinthian church about their immaturity. The Corinthians were a people that were crude, unformed and puffed up, with spiritual pride
Paul Dealt With Immature And Mature Christians. – In the 11th verse Paul said ” When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. BUT when I became a man I put away childish things.” The church of today, the modern church, faces several issues. And one of the problems that the church faces is that there is a huge lack of spiritual maturity. As a result of this spiritual immaturity, many people are unable to handle the work that God desires for them to do. To say it simply, these people need to know that “It’s Time To Come Off The Playground.”
It Is God’s Will That Every Christian Become Spiritually Mature. – One of the purposes of the church is to help people grow to spiritual maturity. So, what is spiritual maturity? Before answering that question, let’s start by discussing what spiritual maturity is not.
#1 – Spiritual maturity is not a matter of AGE. However, spiritual maturity does take time. It takes energy and it takes effort. No one becomes spiritually mature overnight. Even Jesus grew spiritually, as he grew up. Luke 2:52 says, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” But, (here is the warning) you can get older and not grow to spiritual maturity. It’s like the bumper sticker that says, “I may be getting older, but I refuse to grow up.” Some Christians refuse to grow up. I’ve seen 50 and 60-year-old spiritual babies. Spiritual maturity involves much more than just aging.
#2 – Spiritual maturity is not a matter of APPEARANCE. Some people look and sound spiritually mature. In other words, they know how to talk the talk, but the question is this: Do they know how to walk the walk? Some people look holy – they seem to have heaven hovering around them – but that may just be appearance and not reality. Appearances can be deceiving. Spiritual maturity is not a matter of what a person looks or sounds like on the outside.
#3 – Spiritual maturity is not a matter of ACHIEVEMENT. You can be recognized by all kinds of organizations, but that does not make you spiritually mature. You can have all kinds of degrees and diplomas hanging on your wall, but that is not spiritually mature either. Achievements are not a sure sign of spiritual maturity.
Spiritual maturity is a matter of ATTITUDE and CHARACTER. – Attitude and character make a difference. It’s attitude and character that count. D. L. Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark.” Recognition is what people say about you. Character is what God knows about you. God says it’s your attitude and your character that determines who you are. The book of James has a manual on spiritual maturity. For the rest of tonight’s study, let’s look at six marks of spiritual maturity.
#1 – A spiritual mature person is positive under PRESSURE. – All of us have problems. All of us have trials, and all of us have situations that are not good. How do you handle them? How do you deal with being dealt a dead hand? Do your problems blow you out of the water? Do you get up-tight? Do you grumble and gripe? Do you get negative or nervous? The first test of spiritual maturity is how you act when you are under pressure? Do you act positive? Remember the Bible says: “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”
Here is a fact: Life is full of problems, and a big part of life is – problem solving. The question to ask is, “Do I have the right attitude as I approach the problems of life?” A lot of people know the Bible backward and forward, but when troubles and trials come, they are rude and obnoxious. What is your attitude toward life? A spiritual mature person is positive under pressure.
#2 – A spiritual mature person is sensitive to the needs of PEOPLE. – A spiritually mature person doesn’t just see their own needs, but they are also aware of the needs of others. They understand that there are many people around them that are hurting and have needs. God tells us that love – being concerned about other people – is a sign of spiritual maturity.
#3. A spiritual mature person is master of his MOUTH. – In World War II there was a saying that went – “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” Loose lips not only sink ships, but they destroy lives. Here’s a twist on “sticks and stones.” Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will hurt my feelings. What we say is important so we should be very careful in what we say. If we can control what comes out of our mouths, we can control the whole body.
One of the most destructive things we can do is gossip. Here is a definition of gossip. Gossip is a mouth-to-mouth disease. Self-control starts with tongue control. We get ourselves into much trouble by what we say. James gives us several illustrations of how much the tongue can get us in trouble. He says the tongue is like a rudder, a horse’s bit, a spark, a wild animal, and a spring. He says that when you put a small bit in a horse’s mouth – you can control the direction that the horse goes. A small rubber on a boat is designed to control the direction of a boat. Your tongue is small – but it has a huge impact on your life. What you say can destroy your life. You can use your mouth for words of encouragement – or you can use your mouth to spread words of discouragement.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I just say what’s on my mind,” as if they are proud of it? But what if their mind is in the gutter? What if there is not very much in their mind or on their mind? What if what they’re thinking is mean and nasty?
#3 – A spiritual mature person is a peacemaker, and not a TROUBLEMAKER. – The book of James said that we Christians fuss, fight, and fume because of our own inner desires. For example, you want something and you don’t get it – so you get mad. When you get mad you take it out on others. You kill and covet but you still don’t get what you want.
The questions to ask are: ‘Am I a peacemaker or am I a troublemaker? Do I like to argue? Do I like to debate? Do I like to stir up mess? Do I hurt other people’s feelings? Am I a peacemaker or am I a troublemaker?’ The mark of a spiritually mature person is the lack of conflict in his or her life.
# 5 – A spiritual mature person is PATIENT. – Being patient is a quality of character. James gives an illustration of a farmer who plants his fields and now has to wait for the harvest. If there is anyone who has patience, it’s a farmer. He plants the seed, he cultivates, he sprays, he hopes, he expects… he waits. There are no overnight crops. Just like a farmer – sometimes we have to wait. We wait on God to answer our prayers. We wait for a miracle. We wait for God to move in our lives. We wait. Patience is a mark of maturity. The only way to learn patience is by waiting. Many times God says, “Not yet.” That does not mean no – it means not yet. We need to wait. We need to be patient. Patience is the fifth mark or spiritual maturity.
# 6 – A spiritual mature person is PRAYERFUL. – Prayer is talking to God. It is bringing Him your requests. It is praising Him. When we pray we acknowledge that God has control in our lives. James uses the story of Elijah to show us that there is “Power in Prayer.” Elijah prayed that it would not rain and God stopped the rain for three years. Elijah prayed again and the heavens opened up. Elijah did not manipulate God, but he acknowledged Him and believed that God controlled the elements of nature.
Those who are spiritually mature understand the power of God. There are things in your life right now that you think no one can fix. Guess what? God can! God can take that which is broken and mend it. He can take that which is bent and straighten it out. He can take that which is shattered and make it whole. God is that big! God is that powerful! If there are problems in your life, go to Him in prayer.
Conclusion – How do you handle your problems? Are you positive under pressure? Are you sensitive to the needs of others around you? Are you mastering your mouth – keeping control of what you say? Are you a peacemaker rather than a troublemaker? Are you patient and are you prayerful? These are all marks of a spiritually mature Christian. Commit yourself today to growth as a Christian.
It’s time for Christians to come off the playground and grow up in Christ. You might have been stuck in this place for quite some time, and have grown accustomed to it, and you’ve become comfortable on the playground. The playground has held you down long enough. This place has afflicted, bruised and has even made you feel like you are scared for life. This place you are in is cold, dark and damp and you feel there’s no escape and there’s no way out. But I come bearing good news on today, because there is a way out! God says today is your day to come out of this place. Leave the playground, and grow up, grow up, grow up! It’s Time To Get Off The Playground!
Grow Up! Grow Up! Grow Up!
G.R.O.W. – God Rewards Our Work!
G.R.O.W. – Get Rid Of Worldliness!
G.R.O.W. – Go Reach Our World!
G.R.O.W. – God Rules Our World!