Milk or Meat? Another Lesson on Spiritual Maturity

 Christ has commanded all believers to be teachers. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.” Specifically, we are to teach others what Christ has taught us from His Word – how to be saved, and how to live the Christian life. This doesn’t mean we’re all called to be pastors or missionaries – it just means we all should be giving the Gospel to unbelievers and edifying other believers. What you’ve learned, pass on to others – it’s a Biblical principle.

     Throughout the Bible, we see this principle.  Jesus passed on what He knew to his disciples, then told them to tell others. Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 2:2, “And the things that thou hast heard of me . . . the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” One generation passes truth to the next. God intended for the truth of His Word to be passed down this way. He gives us Spirit-filled men in each generation who can understand it and teach it to the next generation. We have a responsibility to our generation and to future generations to pass on the truth of God’s Word.    

     However, Hebrews 5:12 talks of people who “ought to be teachers,” but they needed to be taught! They should have been deeper in their understanding of spiritual things but were still getting confused on the basics. Chapter 6 tells us some of the basics they should have had down: the doctrine of salvation by repentance and faith in Christ, baptism, the resurrection. These are fundamental doctrines of Scripture. You don’t have to look deep into the Bible to find them.  

     The author illustrates his point by saying that they had “need of milk, and not of strong meat.” We understand the analogy. When a baby comes home from the hospital, you don’t throw a T-bone steak and some A1 in front of him and say, “Eat up!” Their digestive system is not yet able to handle that. They have to start with milk and work their way to being able to eat the meaty stuff.

     There’s nothing wrong with that! It’s natural! A newborn Christian should desire the sincere milk of the Word, Peter says. He may not be able to debate deep theology the day after he’s saved. He’s still learning and growing. 

     However, if a 13-year-old is still drinking milk from a bottle or eating baby food, there’s something wrong! Likewise, if a Christian who’s been saved several years still hasn’t learned the fundamentals of Scripture, doesn’t know how to lead someone to Christ, looks the same, talks the same, watches, and listens to the same stuff they did when they were first saved, still has the same friends, still just comes to church Sunday morning, still isn’t involved in ministries, only has 10 minute devotions occasionally, prays for 2 minutes a day – there’s something wrong!

     You may not grow as fast as others.  That’s OK – People grow at different rates. However, if you’re not moving forward at all, there’s a problem. How can you pass on your knowledge of God to others if you don’t have any knowledge to pass on? 

     Growth is always in a forward direction. What if you were still the same height today that you were at birth? What if tomorrow you were two feet shorter than today? That would look odd. Something would be wrong with the growth process. Whether a new Christian or saved for years, you should be moving forward in the Christian life.

     So how do we grow? Look at Hebrews 5:14: strong meat belongs to “those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” After you’ve learned and applied, or used, the Scriptures for a while, you’ll begin to take them to heart. You’ll be able to discern between right and wrong. You won’t get caught up in false teaching. You grow by learning and applying God’s Word!  

     Perhaps your church could be doing more if you put more effort into your growth. Perhaps you could have led more to Christ, given more, and served more. How much have we hindered God’s working by our spiritual complacency?

     This isn’t meant to be a criticism. It’s an encouragement to keep studying, reading, applying, and growing thereby. Listen up when your pastor is preaching and apply the truth to your life. Future generations are counting on you to pass on truth; how can you do that if you haven’t learned it yourself?

     I have a one-year-old son. He’s counting on me to teach him the things of the Lord. Someday, if the Lord tarries His coming, there will come a generation after him. He may have a son that will need him to pass those things along so future generations can learn it. Do you see how urgent this is?

     Is there some can of “baby food” in your life? Some area where you should be farther along, but you’re just sitting stagnant? Some area where you should be serving in church, or perhaps some childish thing you haven’t given up? Somebody you should be telling about Jesus, but you’ve just “never got around to it”?  

     Are you growing, or are you content to stay where you are? Even if you’re not a pastor, you can tell others your testimony! You can invite them to church and give them a tract! You can read your Bible and pray every day! You can clean the church or mow the church lawn! Future generations are counting on you to grow!  

     The author says, “You ought to be teachers, but you need to be taught yourselves because you haven’t taken the time to grow by learning and using the truth of the Bible.” How about you – are you growing?  

~HIGGINBOTHAM

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