Years ago, Toys ‘R Us had a commercial jingle with the following words:
I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R Us kid
There’s a million toys at Toys ‘R Us that I can play with.
From bikes to trains to video games, it’s the biggest toy store there is.
I don’t want to grow up because if I did, I couldn’t be a Toys “R Us kid.
While the lyrics may have been new, the sentiments expressed in the song certainly weren’t. J.M. Barrie captured a similar disposition when he wrote Peter Pan. More recently, others have articulated the growing inclination among young people to adopt this philosophy as a mantra for their life. Despite the desire of many children to speed the maturation process along, somewhere along the way, many lose their ambition and instead revert to attempting to delay the assumption of responsibility that adulthood brings.
Scripture, however, is filled with exhortation for the need to grow up – not only in terms of our earthly responsibilities, but in terms of our eternal ones as well. One of the ways that we demonstrate this maturity is in our relationships with one another. As Paul writes in Ephesians 4:14-15:
so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…”
The contrast made here is perhaps unexpected. Spiritually speaking, children are those that are easily swayed by those around them. This does not come as a surprise as it is not an unfamiliar sight to see those who are immature in their faith be easily convinced of things that are contrary to Scripture. In contrast, it doesn’t state that mature Christians aren’t (although one can make the case from Scripture that mature Christians do in fact stand strong in the faith.) Instead, Paul writes that those who are “grown” in Christ are those that proactively speak truth in love to one another. It’s the willingness to exhort, encourage, and correct each other that sets apart the mature from the immature. If we do that – if we spur each other on with the truth of God’s Word, and sharpen one another with the double-edge sword of truth, than we will be strengthen in the Lord. Those who provide this admonition will grow in their faith, as will those who receive it.
Doing this requires two things – it requires growing in the knowledge of the Truth, and growing in love. As we mature in these things, not only will we know what needs to be said, but we will be prone to say it in such a way that we are motivated not by our own knowledge, but by loving concern for those God has placed in our lives. As such, not only will we be doing the work that God has called us to do, but we will be helping others do so as well (Eph. 4:16).
It can be a hard thing to do – to speak the truth in love to those around us. And like those kids in the Toys ‘R Us commercial we may be tempted to say “I don’t want to grow up.” But God has called us to something greater than immaturity, and as we are willing to lovingly speak the truth, we and those He’s given us relationships with, will grow in Him.