I once saw maturity defined as “the ability to live with ambiguity.” I agree.
When we’re young, we see everything as black and white. A person is either good or bad. An opinion is either right or wrong. But as we get older, we begin to realize there is a lot of gray. Even good people have some hidden vices in their lives, and even bad people have some commendable virtues. All good advice has some drawbacks and all bad advice has some merit. As we get older, we become more flexible in our judgments of people and situations, and I consider that maturity.
The Apostle Paul warned us about making hasty judgments against people. He cites two reasons: first, we don’t know their true motives (1 Cor 4:5) and second, God alone can judge (Rom 14:10). Following his command to not judge prematurely requires maturity. And maturity enables us to follow his instructions. These two feed each other.
Perfectionism is another sign of immaturity, because perfectionists only think in terms of right and wrong and can’t accept anything wrong, including themselves. As a result, they’re constantly frustrated by the people around them and depressed by their own imperfections.
Perfectionists can be dangerous. A good example is Adolf Hitler. He wanted to establish a perfect society on earth. He considered the Aryan race a superior one and fit for this task. In contrast, he believed the Jewish race an inferior one whose existence was detrimental to his perfect society. This belief led him to send millions of Jews to concentration camps and the gas chamber. Obviously, there was only one Hitler, and few perfectionists become criminals. But in their pursuit of perfection, perfectionists hurt people around them. The more power they have, the more hurt they can cause. Eventually, they destroy themselves.
Some perfectionists may argue that God demands us to be perfect. This is true. Scripture says that we should be perfect just as God is perfect (Matt 5:48). But the perfection our Lord was talking about is not about our character. He meant to be perfect in our impartiality. As God loves both good and bad people and sends the same rain to both of their fields, we should also be impartial and love both good and bad people.
Pursuing perfection itself is not wrong. In fact we must try to imitate the perfection of our Lord. When we do our Lord’s work, we must do our best to do it perfectly. We must try to live blameless and perfect lives so that we can say with Apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” But we must also remember that while this is our ideal, it’s unattainable on earth. We cannot live perfect lives and cannot become perfect persons no matter how hard we try. We must accept imperfections in others and ourselves. That’s maturity.
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