Golden Rule

Grow Into An Emotionally Mature Adult, 12 February 2012


“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzero’s book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The Big Idea

The sixth pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality is to grow into an emotionally mature adult.


What is love?

Martin Buber has said that as we become emotionally mature, we experience each person as sacred (including ourselves), viewing them as a “Thou” and not “it.”

Loving well is the goal of the Christian life.

The Good Samaritan—Luke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25)

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” (
Luke 10:26)

He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
(Luke 10:27)

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
(Luke 10:28)

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
(Luke 10:29)

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
(Luke 10:30-35)

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
(Luke 10:36)

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:37)

Different Parts/Components of Who We Are


Becoming a follower of Jesus does not instantly transform every area of our lives.

Two Myths

1. When I accept Christ and He comes to live inside me, growing into an emotionally mature adult is natural.

2. Christian’s ability to love those around them is qualitatively different than those outside the church.

Emotional Maturity

Emotional maturity could be defined as loving well. Are you a good lover?


-- feels a need, but can only cry
-- must wait for parents to figure it out
-- becomes angry if parent is inattentive

-- can communicate but still dependent on others
-- acts out feelings of pain, fear and resentment
-- lacks skill to openly discuss and negotiate getting needs met

-- rebels against parental authority
-- defines self in reaction to others, fears being treated as “child”
-- “don’t tell me what to do”

Adult as Emotional Infant
-- treats others as “objects to meet my needs”
-- acts like tyrant and wins through intimidation
-- unable to empathize with others

Adult as Emotional Child
-- acts out resentment through distance, pouting, whining, clinging, lying, withholding,
appeasing, lying.
-- does not openly and honestly express needs

Adult as Emotional Adolescent
-- cannot give without feeling controlled or resentful
-- capacity for mutual concern is missing
-- defensive, threatened by criticism


1. Able to ask for what they need, want, prefer – clearly, directly, honestly, respectfully.
2. Desire for relationships to win. Seeks win-win situations.
3. Able to listen with empathy.
4. Willing to risk saying what is needed without attacking.
5. Respects others without having to change them.
6. Able to resolve conflicts maturely and negotiate solutions.
7. Gives themselves and others room to make mistakes and not be perfect.

God’s Top Two

There are two primary commands in Scripture

a. love God
b. love others


The key question in the story involves the definition of one’s neighbor. Most people seek good neighbors when they move into a house. We want to be surrounded by people who are nice and safe. It obvious that the expert in the law had a narrow definition of neighbor. The biblical command was simple:

“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18)

The Hebrew word is “rea” which means neighbor, friend, companion, or associate.

Jesus blows his mind with His definition of neighbor, the central argument of the story.

The Good Samaritan

The road traveled in this story descends about 3300 feet over a seventeen-mile path through desert and rocky country. Jericho was home to many religious leaders. Why did the priest and Levite walk on the other side of the road? Have you ever done such a thing to another person, not literally, perhaps, but figuratively?

The priest and the Levite have disconnected loving God and loving others. They knew the Bible and paraded religion, but their hearts were hard. They passed by.

The Samaritan takes pity. He is moved. The real scandal of this story is that Samaritans were viewed as second-class citizens by the Jews. The Talmud says that he who eats bread with a Samaritan is like the one who eats the flesh of pigs.

Who do you hate? Who do you know that is going to Hell?

The Samaritan is moved with deep compassion and he responds. Jesus tells us to “go and do likewise.”

Note that the Samaritan has enough self-awareness and self-respect to continue his own journey, yet still manages to serve the man in need. He delegates some of the care but provides the resources. We are all given many resources—time, talents, treasures, relationships—that can be leveraged to serve others.


You and I are the person on the side of the road and Jesus is the One who had mercy on us, forgave us, gave His life for us, and rescued us. We are here by the grace of God.

Two Applications:

1. Become aware of your family of origin’s capability for emotional connection

Many families invested in our education, physical health, or even spiritual knowledge. Many fail to invest in our emotional maturity. Can you recall being comforted as a child after a time of emotional distress? Think of a time when one of your parents/caregivers comforted you when you were really upset, scared or sad for some reason?

The goal is not to find fault with our parents, but to ruthlessly face the truth of our upbringing in order to deal with issues from our past.

1. Did you learn to trust?
2. Did you learn to respect others?
3. Did you learn to wait and to take turns?
4. Did your parents/caregivers understand your behavior?
5. Were your feelings allowed?
6. Were you allowed to be the child?
7. Did you learn independence and dependence?

2. Take practical steps of discipleship to grow into an emotionally mature adult

It can be terrifying. Some of us do not even know how to feel. Where do we start?

We must follow the path of Abraham, leaving our pasts and families and cultures (the bad stuff) and turning to God. This is impossible apart from God.

We must repent (turn away) from our past and then move forward.

If you want to run a marathon, you must train and build up to it over time. Becoming an emotionally healthy adult requires baby steps.

Discipleship is a lifelong journey. It is hard. It takes time. It is worth it!

The alternative is living your life as a prisoner of your past.

We should love the best because we are loved the best.

“Being listened to is so close to feeling loved that for the average person they are indistinguishable.” -David Augsburger

We need to practice the presence of God (see book by Brother Lawrence) and practice the presence of people.

We are born sinful and selfish, but when we die to ourselves and allow Jesus Christ to live in and through us, we are able to love others the way Jesus loves us.

Paul said,

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)

Fill In The Blank

I really appreciate ______________.

I really hope _________________.

Questions for Discussion

What does this text tell us about God?

What does this text tell us about ourselves?

Who do you love? Who do you hate?

How is it possible that we can love God and not our neighbor? Or is it possible?

Do you use people to get things or use things to serve people?

What would it look like for you to treat every human being as a “Thou,” created in God’s image with dignity, value and worth?

How would our world be different if everyone loved their neighbor?

Do you treat people differently on their birthday? What if you treated everyone as if every day was their birthday?

You can listen to the podcast here.

Note: many ideas derived from Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituailty.