Maturity in Proverbs

I want to look at three proverbs that deal with the issue of maturity. They do not deal with the subject directly, but certainly they are speaking about some things that really require maturity.

The first proverb we will look at is about keeping yourself pure, but not in the usual way we talk about it. You have heard the story before about the man who’s sons wanted to go see a movie that had a little bit of profanity and nudity in it. They protested when he would not let them go, because they couldn’t see why just a little bit of bad should keep them from enjoying the movie. Their father baked them some brownies and told them they had a special ingredient. The boys really liked the way the brownies looked and smelled. Then their father told them he had put just a little bit of dog feces in the brownies. But it was just a little bit, so they could go ahead and eat the brownies. Of course they did not eat them and got the point. Just a little bit of bad makes the whole thing bad.

This is what Proverbs 25:26 talks about. Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked. A polluted fountain or muddied spring is worthless. Often, it is worse than worthless, it is dangerous and can kill you if you drink from it. A righteous man must be able to be counted on to stand against the wicked. He is a man who will not give in to demands for wickedness, no matter how unpopular he becomes or how dangerous it is for him. He relies on God and so is able to stand.

In 1 Samuel 30, we read about when David and his men went out with the Philistines when they were going to fight Israel. The Philistine commanders did not trust David and complained, so he and his men were sent back to their city. When they arrived, all of their families and possessions had been stolen. David’s men wanted to stone him. Then he strengthened himself in the Lord. He found out what God wanted. He followed and recaptured his people and possessions. The wicked men who followed him demanded that they not share what the had recovered with the men who had stayed with the baggage instead of going to fight. Instead of trying to please his men, David stood firm and did what was right. He showed his maturity by resisting evil men even when it didn’t look good for him.

In 1 Corinthians 16:13 we read …Stand firm in the faith… and in Galatians 5:1, Do not submit to a yoke of slavery, but stand firm. This reminds me of the time when Paul and Barnabas stood against the false teachers in Antioch that we read about in Acts 15. Those false teachers were trying to subject the Gentiles to a yoke of slavery by telling them they had to keep the old law. But Paul and Barnabas resisted the evil men and demonstrated that they were mature in the faith.

In the next proverb, we find another mark of maturity — knowing when too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Proverbs 25:27 says, It is not good to eat much honey…. If you turn a child loose with unlimited sweets, most children are going to eat too much of it and be sick. As we get older, we learn to control ourselves (or at least we do if we are truly maturing). One area in which it takes many people a long time to mature is that of entertainment. Entertainment can be a good thing. We need stress relief. We need relaxation. But too much entertainment can be a bad thing even if the entertainment itself is not bad. When our stress is gone and we are relaxed, we don’t need more entertainment, we need to work.

Another realization that comes with maturity is that glory comes through service. Proverbs 25:27 says, …nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. I remember in the popular movie trilogy, Indiana Jones, when Indy was asked why he did what he did, he would say, “Fortune and glory.” Of course one of the things that made the movies continue to be enjoyable is that he never got fortune or glory. Glory does not come by seeking glory.

Philippians 2:8-11 explains that Jesus is not glorified because he sought His own glory — it is because He served us. He tried to teach us that same principle in Matthew 20:26.

In the next proverb, we learn that self-control is protection. Often an immature person believes that self-control is just a something that you do because you have to but it keeps you from living life to the fullest.

Proverbs 25:28 tells us, A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. Think about Jerusalem when the Jews came back from captivity. They had to rebuild the walls to keep from being invaded. Until they built the walls, they had men stationed constantly around the city to protect it from invaders. Without self-control, you either have to find some other way (a harder way) to avoid temptation, or anything can get to you.

This is why young people should accept discipline from their parents/teachers and learn from it. If you can learn from other’s controlling you, and practice self-control then they won’t have to control you any more.

A righteous man must not back down from a wicked man, we need to know when too much of a good thing is too much, we must remember that glory comes through service and not through seeking our own glory, and we must learn self-control if we are to defend ourselves from Satan’s attacks. A person who practices those things is certainly on his or her way to the real maturity that is pleasing to God.