BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, ‘Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.’ And his brothers said to him, ‘Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, ‘Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.’ So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?’ And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind” (Genesis 37:5-11 NKJV).
Maturity is proof of growth and development, and maturity should not be in physical development alone, it should also be in spiritual development, character development, etc. Every child of God should aim at all-round development. Luke 2:52 says, “So Jesus grew both in height and in wisdom, and he was loved by God and by all who knew him” (NLT). That was an all-round development. There are people who are mature physically but are immature in other respects.
Joseph’s persecution and affliction could be traced to his immaturity in handling his God-given dream. He shouldn’t have shared his dream with his brothers. Let’s assume he didn’t know that his brother would react to his dream negatively. But having seen their reaction after he told them the first dream, he shouldn’t have told them the second dream. Joseph was however inexperienced; he was immature.
The Bible says when he told them the first dream he had, “they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.” That suggests that they had some hatred for him before then but the hatred grew worse with the first dream he told them. Why did they hate him before then? Genesis 37:2 gives us an idea: “Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father” (NKJV). They hated him because of that. And Joseph worsened the hatred towards him by telling them a dream that showed that they would be subject to him. That means he told his dream to his enemies. How dare Joseph do that!
To show his naivety, Joseph went to tell his brothers and his father a second dream which, to his brother, was not anything better than the first dream. His brothers were jealous of him but his father gave it some thought, wondering the meaning of the dream. The hatred and jealousy of Joseph’s brothers made them plot to kill him but eventually, they sold him into slavery (Genesis 37:18-36). Perhaps this wouldn’t have happened to Joseph but for his immaturity at handling his dream. Yes, God, in His sovereignty, worked everything together for his good turning his pain to gain, but God could still have achieved His purpose in Joseph’s life through another route.
You must grow up; quit immaturity. Mature people control their tongues. According to James 1:26, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are just fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless” (NLT). James 3:2 says, “We all make many mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control themselves in every other way” (NLT).
Saul demonstrated maturity when he did tell his uncle the fact that he had been anointed the first king of Israel by Samuel. He only told him Samuel revealed to him that his father’s lost asses or donkeys he was looking for had been found; he kept silent on the aspect that he had been anointed as king. “‘Where in the world have you been?’ Saul’s uncle asked him. ‘We went to look for the donkeys,’ Saul replied, ‘but we couldn’t find them. So we went to the prophet Samuel to ask him where they were.’ ‘Oh? And what did he say?’ his uncle asked. ‘He said the donkeys had been found,’ Saul replied. But Saul didn’t tell his uncle that Samuel had anointed him to be king” (1 Samuel 10:14-16 NLT).
Don’t think everyone is happy about your progress – not even every Christian or all your siblings. Be discreet in sharing your dream or success. Micah 7:6 says, “Your enemies will be right in your own household” (NLT). Jesus said a similar thing in Matthew 10:36 – a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. There is a time when it’s not yet ripe to share certain dreams or visions with some people. Be wise.
The wise men and Herod
The wise men were excited about the birth of Jesus and were looking for him to worship him but Herod was looking for him to kill him – he was sad rather than being glad at the birth of Jesus. He saw Jesus, the ‘King of the Jews’ as a threat to his throne. But Jesus didn’t want Herod’s throne; he wanted Herod’s heart – Herod’s heart was where he wanted to sit not to sit on Herod’s throne. Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36).
Lying to the wise men, Herod told them to go and search carefully for the young child and come back to tell him when they had found him so that he would go to worship him also. But the wise men were thereafter divinely warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and they departed for their own country another way. “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16 NKJV).
The heart of man is most deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). It is not everything you tell everybody. If the wise men had not been warned in a vision not to go back to Herod to tell Herod they had found Jesus, they would not have been wise enough to know that he was a murderer who was planning to kill Jesus and not to worship him. Don’t think that everybody means exactly what they tell you. Some people speak sweet words but they are full of poison. Psalm 55:20-21 says, “As for this friend of mine, he betrayed me; he broke his promises. His words are as smooth as cream, but in his heart is war. His words are as soothing as lotion, but underneath are daggers!” (NLT). Judas’ kiss was not the kiss of a friend; it was the kiss of a traitor. And Jesus wasn’t deceived. “It is better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool” (Ecclesiastes 7:5 NLT).
Paul says the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all (Galatians 4:1). Until he is mature, that child cannot take possession of the inheritance that rightly belongs to him.
You must grow up. Don’t be a child forever. Grow up spiritually; don’t depend on milk forever – there is solid food you need to eat. “You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food. And a person who is living on milk isn’t very far along in the Christian life and doesn’t know much about doing what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right” (Hebrews 5:12-14 NLT).
1Corinthians 14:20 says “Dear brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature and wise in understanding matters of this kind” (NLT). There is a difference between being childish and being childlike. Psalm 116:6 says, “The LORD protects those of childlike faith” (NLT). In Matthew 11:25, Jesus prayed, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike” (NLT). Luke 10:21 says a similar thing. Whereas childlikeness is a positive spiritual attribute for a child of God to possess, childishness must be done away with because is a mark of immaturity.
Quit childishness, grow up! There are Bible teachings that only mature Christians can receive; immature Christians will reject them. Paul says, “I hope all of you who are mature Christians will agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you” (Philippians 3:15 NLT). God expects you to be mature in your understanding (Hebrews 6:1). Are you mature? Are you getting mature? Paul says, “Yet when I am among mature Christians, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world, and not the kind that appeals to the rulers of this world, who are being brought to nothing” (1 Corinthians 2:6 NLT). Paul’s reference to mature Christians underscores the fact that there are immature Christians.
Stay open to the ministry gifts
Your openness to the ministry gifts will determine a lot about your maturity because they are to help you to mature and fully grow in the LORD. “He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13 NLT). Grow up; quit childish things. Put an end to childish behavior in your Christian walk including your relationship with people. Be mature. Paul says, “It’s like this: When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11 NLT.) You must quit childish behavior too.
Grow in love
Above all, grow in love because is the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13). Jesus said there is no greater commandment than loving God and loving your neighbor (Mark 12:29-31; Matthew 22:37-39). 1 Corinthians 14:1 says, “Let love be your highest goal, but also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives, especially the gift of prophecy” (NLT). The degree to which you’re walking in love is the degree to which you’ve grown as a Christian. To grow as a Christian, you must grow in love. “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world” (1 John 4:17 NLT).
Jesus loved humanity and died on the cross. The Bible says while we were yet sinners Jesus died for us (Romans 5:6). He has given us a good example of love to follow. Your life must therefore be filled with love for others. Ephesians 5:2 says, “Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to him” (NLT).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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