And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? I Corinthians 3:1-3
Unless we’re new in Christ (young Christians), as believers, there really is no excuse for our tendencies toward continuing to act and react like immature, spoiled children. Granted, until we reach heaven, we’ll battle our flesh nature, but growing steadily in Christ-likeness should always be our goal.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul called the Corinthian believers infants (babes) in Christ. What was the bases for his accusation? Jealousy and strife among those who called themselves Christians.
What other attitudes or emotions might we find in those who are still acting like spiritual babies? For those who are immature in Christ, more often than not they’re asking, “what’s in it for me?”, whether it be in regards to salvation, church involvement, or ministry opportunities. For the immature, salvation is nothing more than protection from hell and a free ticket into heaven. The idea of actually pursuing and maintaining a close walk with God is foreign to them. When it comes to church involvement, these are the people who are asking, “how can this church best meet MY needs, or minister to MY family?” They’re often professional church hoppers, moving from one church to the next in search of the one that best meet their needs. And ministry opportunities, if they’re ministering at all, are simply a means to receive personal praise and recognition. And while we’d like to believe this isn’t true, our churches today are full of people who fit this description.
On the other hand, those who are maturing in Christ, realize being a child of God is much more than a selfish me, me, me relationship. Instead, these are believers who are growing in their desire to be a reflection of God in the world around them, through their attitudes, words, and actions. Instead of asking, “What’s in it for me?”, they’re asking, “Father, why have you placed me in this body of Christ? How do You desire to use the gifts and abilities You have given me in order to help build up and edify others?”
In Hebrews 5:11-14, the writer’s accusations are similar to the ones Paul made in I Corinthians 3:1-3: Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary 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 not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Because of practice . . . Maturity in Christ does not happen overnight with little effort on our part. Growing in Christ-likeness takes time and practice; it takes self-control and self-discipline; it requires that we crucify our flesh and walk in self-denial. If these are things we’re unwilling to do, then although we may be saved, we will never be anything more than spoiled children, caught up in a never-ending cycle of needing to be taught again the elementary principles of our Christian faith.
I don’t know about you, but I long to be all God created me to be. I long to know Him more personally and intimately this time next year than I do today. I long to feast on the solid meat of His word, that in turn I might share those truths with others.
As we close today’s study, I want to leave you with a number of passages of scripture I believe describe those who are mature, or are maturing, in Christ. I would encourage you to prayerfully read through each passage, asking if these qualities are yours and increasing? And if you discover the answer is no, I hope you’ll stop and ask God to help you move beyond infancy into a richer, fuller, more Christ-like walk with Him.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each others, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also love you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant offering. Ephesians 4:30-32, 5:1-2
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:3-5
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world. Philippians 2:14-15
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:12-14
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. II Peter 1:4-8
Now at my bungalow retreat, where I depict country living, bungalow-style through words and pictures: Peppermint & Cotton Candy. Hope you’ll drop by for a visit. www.bungalowretreat.com