But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived (1 John 2:4–6 MSG).
God has the most amazing plans for each of us here on earth. Not only does he want us to live life, but he has planned for us to enjoy life “to the full” (John 10:10). God has also called us to love him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). He has called us to grow past spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity.
For most of us, the easier part of the challenge is to love God with all of our mind and strength. If we put our mind to it, we may be able to change outside and surface behaviors without really changing the heart and soul. Yet, in Ephesians 4:12–14, God calls us to grow and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. In Philippians he calls us to live up to what we’ve attained (Philippians 3:16). He knows that it’s best for us to present each other fully mature in Christ (Colossians 1:27–29). God wants what we want: to see us reach a level of maturity that will allow us to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:14). He has even planned for us to be “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). Though I worked extremely hard to be the best disciple of Christ I could be, I had no idea how important it was to address the God-given emotional aspects of my being. I didn’t know it, but my emotions were impacting every area of my life. Since I wasn’t intentionally aware of and managing my emotions, they were managing me!
Most of us have worked for as long as we’ve been Christians on being all that we can be spiritually. But until we address the heart and soul love that God calls us to, we will not attain to the maturity that God desires for our lives and we will miss out on the incredible gift of living his “life to the full.” Some of us have opted out of the hard work required to become emotionally intelligent and mature. As a result, we’ve paid the price many times over for this neglect. Our personal well-being, peace, and serenity and our emotional intelligence (self-knowledge, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management skills) have all suffered because we are not all that Jesus was as he “matured, growing up in both body and spirit” (Luke 2:51–52 MSG). When we expect to live life to the full without dealing with our emotions, we are building with hay or straw and will be disappointed (1 Corinthians 3:12–15). Without emotional intelligence and personal growth, our lives will be like the seed that fell among thorns (Luke 8:14). We will not be able to most effectively or spiritually handle life’s worries, riches, and pleasures, and we will not mature.
One of my all-time favorite quotes is, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” We can stop the madness if we are willing to address heart and soul issues. The insane thinking is when we believe that we can have the most amazing chocolate cake without all the required ingredients: desiring and expecting God’s life to the full when we don’t give attention to character growth and emotional maturity. It’s madness to think that we can be all that God has planned for us without keeping a firm grasp on both our character and our teaching or without maturing in our life along with our doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16).
This book addresses issues that we must consider in order to live as emotionally, spiritually, and relationally mature adults. This is not a “quick read” book as it contains scriptures to contemplate, personal sharing, paradigm-changing insights, and reflection questions.