Kids are cute. They talk cute, eat cute, and play cute. In fact, almost everything they do is adorable. Kids also get bigger. As they grow, some of the things they did and said as a 2 year old are not quite so adorable. This is why we must be careful with how we react to our 2-3 year olds. If we are not careful, we will overlook the rebellion and foolishness of our 2-3 year olds for too long and they will quickly become 8-9 year olds who act like 2 and 3 year olds. If we are not careful, those same 8-9 year olds will become 14-15 year olds who will become 30 year olds who still act like 2-3 year olds.
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Everyone grows, but not everyone grows up. In other words, some people stop being a child while continuing to be childish. The Apostle Paul wrote: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor 13:11). In our next section of Hebrews, the writer of Hebrews wants his readers to give up childish ways. He wants to speak to them of deep truths concerning Jesus Christ and His priesthood, but is unsure if his audience can process it because they have become dull of hearing. Let us all hear these words from Scripture and commit to growing spiritually.
Have Become Dull of Hearing
In Hebrews 5:11, we read: “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.” What is the teaching that the writer of Hebrews wants to say? He wants to expound to them about Christ’s priesthood. In the previous verses, he wrote about Jesus: “having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” This truth is not hard to explain because it is too difficult to grasp or because his readers are too dumb to process it; no, it is hard to explain because they have become dull of hearing.
What does it mean that they “have become dull of hearing”? This is a spiritual condition that they have obtained over time. At first they received the word of God cheerfully and with humility but now they have become dull of hearing. This dullness can also be described as slowness, slothfulness, and/or numbness. Over a period of time, they have become numb and inattentive to the teaching of Christ and they now have a lack of interest or excitement about these things. Philip Hughes commented: “They had become slack, and their slackness has affected their attentiveness and their capacity to receive and retain solid instruction” (Hughes). The writer of Hebrews has much to say about Jesus but is fearful that his audience will not be able to receive it properly because of their spiritual lethargy and lack of zeal.
Milk Does a Body Good?
The writer laments that his audience needs milk, not solid food. Milk is good in the beginning of life but as one matures they must move on to a more nourishing diet. Milk is the only diet suitable for infants, but inadequate to sustain a grown man. Applying this spiritually, immature believers can only handle “milk”; that is, they need to be nourished by “the basic principles of the oracles of God” (Heb 5:12). They need this milk in order to gain strength and maturity and they should reach a point to where they move on toward solid food. The writer of Hebrews laments that by this time they ought to be teachers, but they are in need of someone to teach them again “the basic principles.” It is normal for recent converts to Christianity to need milk, but Christians who remain immature in their faith are unskilled in the word of righteousness. Christians who fail to grow spiritually–over time–either avoid the local church or fill it with jealousy and strife (1 Cor 3:3). Churches that are filled with immature Christians provide a witness to the people around them, but it is a witness of bitterness, envy, strife, argumentation, and hypocrisy.
What the World Needs Now
Spiritually mature believers crave solid food. This does not mean they move on past the Gospel, but the more they continue to grow in their knowledge and appreciation of the Gospel they crave to know more and live out all of God’s commands found in His Word. Mature Christians are described as those “who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Heb 5:14). Contrast this with the description of the immature who “are unskilled in the word of righteousness.” Rather than become dull of hearing, they hear the Word and take great delight in it. They want to hear it with their ears and process it in their head. They want this message to impact their heart and to motivate their hands for God’s glory and the good of others.
Leonard Ravenhill once said, “The world out there is not waiting for a new definition of Christianity; it’s waiting for a new demonstration of Christianity.” This is true because our world will not benefit from a redefinition of Christianity, but from people who know God’s Word and will unapologetically live it out. Mature Christians are those who know the difference between good and evil and are trained by constant practice of discernment. Mature Christians do not redefine biblical truths or adjust their beliefs based on the prevailing opinions of the culture. Mature Christians know what the essential doctrines of the faith are and have drawn a line in the sand that they dare not cross. Mature Christians are those who base their belief on “chapter and verse” rather than societal pressure.
It has been well-established that kids say the darndest things. At the same time, kids do not necessarily say the wisest things. Kids need to grow up and mature physically and mentally. Also, Christians need to grow up spiritually. The world does not need weak and ineffective churches. Weak churches are filled with childish Christians and have no impact on the society around them. On the contrary, weak churches are barely distinguishable from the world around them. We need to be mature. We need to faithfully proclaim Jesus Christ is Lord and to live our lives as a demonstration that He is our Lord.