In the South, we have a saying: “Too big for your britches”. In general, it describes the moments when you are overconfident, all-assuming, and power hungry. Often, it is used toward children who need an attitude adjustment; who lack respect for their elders.
As kids, how many of us couldn’t wait to become an adult? Wishing our lives away as we gazed out of the classroom window, daydreaming of a future with less rules, more freedom, keys to the car, to our own house, to our own kids to wield power over someday? Now that I am an adult, I wish I had fully appreciated the days of my childhood. Funny how that works, right?
Simply put, being “too big for your britches” means you are disobedient to the authorities God has placed over your life. You are trying to grow up too fast, over-reaching the boundaries He designed to keep you safe, healthy, pure, and full of joy. God gives in God’s timing, when He deems us ready, and over-reaching, even for something generally good, will ultimately cause us pain. We must grow with His timing to avoid stretching ourselves too thin.
Sometimes we over-reach because we are so hasty to grow ahead of the competition, or to at least fit in. We want a nice car, nice house, nice clothes, and more, which all may over-reach our paycheck, and if not careful, land us in debt. Once those loans and credit card bills gnaw away at our wages, we become dissatisfied, feel trapped, desire a nice vacation to get away, and on the cycle spins.
Sometimes we over-reach in ministry. I have often thought, “God called me to this, and I must do all I can to grow this mission God has planted in my heart.” I can tell you even now I am feeling the effects of growing good deeds in the name of Christ too fast and too soon. It’s a lot of work, and it tears at not only me, but now my husband, family, and friends to see the mountain of stress we’ve built by moving ahead of God’s hand of provision.
“You, therefore, must be perfect growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 AMP
Funny how we use the term “adultery” in the English language. Our language combines “adult”, a person who is fully grown or developed, with the suffix “-ery”, possessing the qualities of the previous term. “Adultery”, in the strictest sense of the word, should then describe someone having the character of a fully developed person, complete and perfect.
Instead, “adultery” seemingly signifies that upon reaching adulthood, it’s permissible to “do what you feel”. Committing adultery means breaking through the boundaries of marriage to do whatever we want with another person, an extremely destructive decision that impacts everyone involved at such a deep soul-shaking level. Surely this cannot be the height of human maturity!
We encourage our children to eat healthy and play in the fresh air. We pour into them our time, energy, and resources in hopes they will enjoy the best parts of life. It is easy enough to make good choices for our little ones. However, as we age, we Americans are known for eating large portions, largely of junk food, and avoiding exercise. As adults, it’s even more important for us to operate within the rules of caring for our bodies. We give our best guidance to young children while we allow ourselves to waste away. We become so easily addicted to anything that would destroy our health, enslaving us, yet we think we are free when we do whatever we feel like doing.
At a magic “age of consent” defined by our society, we can now grasp for anything we desire. How many celebrate their adulthood with making their first purchase of cigarettes at age 18? At 21, their first purchase of alcohol? Did you know in the state of New York, at around 12 years old a child has the right to give or deny consent to drug testing, birth control, and even abortion, without any parental involvement? Even younger if their physician believes they are old enough to understand consent. Our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain most necessary for considering the long-term consequences of our decisions, is not even fully developed until the mid-to-late twenties. In our society, children can make life-altering decisions even before their brains are fully developed, without their parents ever knowing!
“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. You say, “Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.” (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead. Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! 16 And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.”But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 NLT
Friends, we cannot achieve even obedience to God on our own. To our Father in Heaven, even good things apart from Him are worthless. Sin. We become “too big for our britches” without the fear, respect, and obedience that comes from loving God well. Often, we rail against Him and disobey because of the tantalizing, tainted “freedom” the world claims to offer. We do not want to answer to anyone but ourselves; we want to prove we can do it on our own. Yet apart from our Creator, we will always be a slave to something. There is no freedom but through Christ. He died to give us all a spiritual rebirth. God doesn’t want us entering His presence “too big for our britches”. He wants us “unadulterated”, complete, absolute, pure, like a child:
“People were bringing children to Him so that He would touch and bless them, but the disciples reprimanded them and discouraged them [from coming]. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and He said to them, “Allow the children to come to Me; do not forbid them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever does not receive and welcome the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” And He took the children [one by one] in His arms and blessed them [with kind, encouraging words], placing His hands on them.” Mark 10:13-16 AMP
Growing in the freedom of Christ means so much more than doing what we feel when we feel it. Opposite of what the world teaches it means to be an adult, maturity in Christ is total reliance on Him, walking in step with Him, holding His hand the whole way.
” You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV
We are not called to make things happen on our own; we will fail. We are called to simply love God, by growing nearer to Him, through constant prayer and study of His word, through our requests to Him for more of Him. Only out of our love for God will we learn pure, “unadulterated” obedience. God will work through us to make things happen for His greater glory, in His timing, with His blessing.
I encourage you today to implore the Holy Spirit to search your life for any areas you have over-reached. Scale back from adults-only activities. Turn off the Mature- and R-Rated entertainment. Instead of Netflix, try Pureflix. With your rebirth and new life in Christ, fill yourselves with childlike wonder at the pure, unadulterated majesty of God and His Creation. Eat healthily, sleep well, and play outside in the fresh air! See through new eyes. Fall even more in love with Him.