Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity

John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D

Copyright 1996, John H. Stoll

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Chapter 37 - Don't Squeeze the Balloon

Reflecting on the joys of childhood often brings to mind the fun of playing with a balloon. Squeezing an inflated one could produce interesting shapes, some of which stayed, while others would remain only if the fingers were kept in place. Sometimes the rubber would stretch in such a way that if the air was let out, the rubber was permanently stretched in a rather grotesque fashion.

In an analogous manner, life itself is somewhat similar to the balloon. A person is molded and shaped as one grows and expands their horizons. There are many and varied forces tugging, pulling, squeezing, all trying to shape or misshape one's life. Let us consider how one may evaluate their life, then compare that to the Biblical principles, and finally the ministry of the Holy Spirit recharacterizing the Christian's life to become more Christ like in the maturing process.

When my children were growing up I told them that the books they read, the television they watched, and the company they kept, all contributed to molding their character, for good or evil. For every Christian this may be helpful or harmful, depending on the many facets of life, to which one is exposed and subjected, and to which one listens.

From birth to death, one is never immune to external forces which constantly bombard every person, and there is an internal response that accepts or rejects these intrusions. Therefore, what one meditates on and continuously thinks about, is that which shapes the character and molds one's life.

In Psalm 1:2 it tells us that the truly fulfilled person is the one whose, "Delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law does he meditate day and night". The Psalmist goes on to state the result in that, "He shall be like a tree planted - - that brings forth fruit, - - and whatsoever he does will prosper" (v.3). Every person desires fulfillment in life, and Christ noted in John 10:10 that, "I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly". To experience that kind of life, the Christian must follow the principles of the Bible, then God guarantees success and prosperity.

When Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised land, God told him in Joshua 1:8, "This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate (i.e. go over and over it) therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success". Prosperity and successfulness is desirable by everyone. For the Christian these two elements must be obtained by following Biblical principles, not by the way of the world.

Furthermore, in Romans 8:6 it tells us that, "To be fleshly minded (i.e. self centered) brings death, but to be spiritually minded (i.e. set on God's principles) is life and peace". The conflict in the development of one's character of life, revolves around the WILL, as to whether one follows God's way or the self centered way. There are many people just existing (i.e. a living death), not enjoying the fullness of life, because they have allowed the world to mold and shape them, instead of the truth of the Bible. It is no wonder they are not enjoying "life and peace".

The finest thing a person is able to say of oneself, when they come to the end of life is, "I have had a fulfilled life", whereas the saddest comment on past life is, "I wish I had it to do over again". Since we all have only one go around in life, it seems reasonable to accept the guarantee of God, in following His way, so that we can enjoy the fullest of life possible.

Recharacterization of life through the transformation of the work of the Holy Spirit, bringing the Christian into conformity with God's way, is the manner by which this is accomplished. It must begin by a willful desire to submit one's life to Holy Spirit control. This is not only a once for all commitment, but a daily continuing commitment for each day, since every Christian still has a self centered will that desires to be in control. In a sense this means writing the Holy Spirit a "blank check" for each day, and allowing Him to teach, guide, and control one's activities, thoughts, decisions, etc. for that day.

In John 16:13,14, Christ pointed out that when the Holy Spirit would come that, "He will guide you into all the truth", and that "He will glorify me". This means that the Holy Spirit guides the Christian in recharacterizing his life into the moral qualities of Jesus Christ. The word "glorify" means God's moral qualities. The result is that the Christian's character exhibits in behavior change, what the Apostle Paul called, "The fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5:22-24.

To try and be Christ like in behavior by trying to suppress anger, hostility, and bitterness, is to ultimately, like squeezing the balloon, distort one's life, and probably cause emotional and/or physical disaster to one's life. The God designed way, and most effectual catharsis and healing process, is to confess, rather than suppress, one's sin to God, which brings forgiveness, healing, and cleansing (I John 1:9), and allows the Holy Spirit to use the experience to mature the child of God.

Submission of one's will to the recharacterization of life by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God (Romans 12:2), is for the individual to become more Christlike (II Corinthians 3:18), and is God's admonition to every Christian for fullness of life, and maturation as His child (Philippians 2:5; Ephesians 5:18; II Corinthians 4:6).

When a person allows the Holy Spirit of God to shape and mold his life, the result is not a warped life as the world shapes a person, which is devastating, but a wholeness and fullness that produces a fruitful and satisfying life, that will endure for eternity.

O to be like thee, blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer.
Gladly, I'll forfeit all of earth's treasures,
Jesus, thy perfect likeness to wear.

O to be like thee, full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind.
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Fit me for life and heaven above.

O to be like thee, O to be like thee,
Blessed redeemer, pure as thou art.
Come in thy sweetness, come in thy fullness,
Stamp thine own image deep in my heart.

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