DONE a REALITY CHECK of your ‘SPIRITUAL MATURITY’ lately? “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb. 5:12-14)
It is not uncommon for parents to watch eagerly as their children grow up, and point to others with pride to each new sign of physical growth. In today’s age of digital photography, parents record the physical growth of their children and proudly share with relatives and friends through year-end greeting cards, sharing online photo albums, etc. We also get our children checked up physically at least once yearly to make sure that they are growing physically in height, weight, etc. The same concept should be applied for our spiritual growth as well.
As our heavenly Father, God is also eagerly watching for our spiritual growth every day. After we are born-again (John 3:3), God expects us to nourish ourselves with the spiritual food that He has provided through His Word and grow up "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). Our spiritual growth and maturity is expected from us as we adopt this theme: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child; I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Cor. 13:11). So, the three ways how our spiritual maturity is revealed are through our speech, in our understanding and in our thinking!
In the above scriptural passage, the writer is berating the Hebrew believers concerning their lack of spiritual growth. They had been receiving instruction long enough now so that they should be teaching others. Given the length of time that they have come to the faith, they should have grown spiritually to become mature as role models/mentors and should have been currently ministering as Bible teachers and spiritual instructors. However, sadly, they were still requiring elementary instructions of the oracles of God from other believers (see 1 Cor. 3:1-2). They were only being able to digest spiritual ‘milk’ instead of spiritual ‘solid food’! (1 Pet. 2:2)
In order for us to understand the difference between the two, we should ask ourselves where milk comes from. It comes from a body that has eaten solid food and produces milk. The milk has come through the mother’s digestive process. On the spiritual sense, the milk is the basic primary spiritual truth as opposed to the more advanced spiritual truth that comes through the practical application of primary truth (1 John 1:6-7). The milk of God’s Word represents the first principles of the Christian life, that is, what Jesus Christ did for us when He was on earth. The solid food of God’s Word is the teaching about what Jesus is now doing for us in heaven, His ministry as High Priest. Professing believers who stay on a milk diet are unskilled in the word of righteousness as they remain in a state of perpetual infancy as just hearers of the Word!
God’s order is that every believer should mature to the point where he/she can teach others. While it is true that some have a special gift of teaching, it is also true that every believer should engage in some teaching ministry. Mature believers should be skillful in using God’s truth in their personal lives, and they can also teach others. Growing up spiritually and maturing involves reaching higher level of knowledge, accepting more responsibility, and performing more significant duties. By obeying God’s word, mature believers are able to form spiritual judgments and save themselves from moral and doctrinal dangers.
Let us understand that by constant application of God’s Word to our lives we can exercise our spiritual senses (just as an athlete exercises/trains his body), and can easily discern truth from error. We can then discriminate between sound and unsound doctrine and between wholesome and unwholesome conduct, and then make informed decisions in harmony with God’s will. Our spiritual maturity arises from spiritual discernment developed through consistent obedience to God’s will. We should recognize that it is only through a sustained daily effort to apply God’s Word to our lives that we will become spiritually mature. Have you done a reality check of your spiritual maturity lately?