“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instructions about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.”
Hebrews 5:11 – 6:3
How long have you been a Christian? How old are you in Christ? Old enough to know better? Isn’t that what we say to our kids? As children get older we expect their control to become more internal rather than external. We expect them to discipline themselves, rule over themselves with increasing success because they know that to be self-controlled and disciplined is a sign of maturity. When we see signs of maturity in our children we know that we can trust them with more freedom. We don’t expect the behavior of a four-year-old child in a teenager who is sixteen.
In the same way maturity is a normal, expected physical, emotion, and mental process, so is spiritual maturity expected in us. 1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
So many times as Christians we struggle with even the most basic of spiritual concepts and disciplines. I think that at some point God expects us to ‘get it’. Do we really need to be reminded all the time that we need to be in God’s word? What would you think of a grown man or woman who still doesn’t get that they need to brush their teeth every day, or bathe regularly, or change clothes once in a while? Would you think that they were lazy, crazy, ‘special’, weird…? There’s something going on in a situation like that…we may not know what, but we know there’s a problem.
In the same way, we know there’s a problem when people who have been Christians for years still do not have regular bible study, time with God to pray and meditate, hearts of compassion ready to serve.
There’s a reason why these things are called disciplines. They take time, commitment and a deliberate, intentional choice to engage in them daily. Just like we practice daily disciplines to keep our bodies functioning as they should, we need to practice the daily spiritual disciplines that keep us in tune with God and ready to be used by him.
God is preparing places of ministry and service for us beyond the walls of our churches. We will do spiritual battle – face people and situations that will challenge and frustrate us, and that will have the power to defeat us if we are not mature enough to see them for what they are, and to stand firmly in the promises of God that we have learned and leaned on. Read the scripture from Hebrews again. Look at the phrase in bold letters. By constant use. That’s exercise, practice, doing it until it becomes second nature for us.
We will always struggle to learn more about God and who he is, what he wants for us, how his word applies to us. That kind of struggle is not a sin, it is how we learn. The problem is when we are still struggling years later with the most basic of concepts. If we really don’t get it, that’s one issue. If we still struggle because we don’t apply it and practice it, that’s another. Ask God to help you search yourself. Ask him to convict you of any spiritual laziness, forgive you for it, and give you the strength, courage and commitment to grow up.
It’s a scary world out there with big problems. Time to put on your big girl panties or big boy briefs (whichever is appropriate for you – please do not feel free to share!) and get out there like spiritual adults. God has work for us to do.
What do you say? What discipline do you need to finally get right? Are you asking God to help you work on it?
I am praying for you today.