I am the blessed Grandma of seven grandchildren. I loved each of their baby stage, so sweet and refreshing! I also am excited and love to meet baby Christians, or those who have recently put their faith in Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews 5:11-14 , however, is speaking of babes of a different variety. These referred to in today’s verses are in a state of continuous infancy. They lack interest in Biblical teaching and as a result they lack spiritual growth and discernment, they neglect to press on to maturity.
“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 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.” Hebrews 5:11-14
The text today contrasts the spiritual infant with the spiritually mature through a comparison of milk and solid food. Milk is the nourishment for babies because it does not have to be chewed. It has the essential nutrients they needs and their body is able to digest and use milk. They also depend on their parents to feed them and protect them from any harm. What a tragedy if they would continue wanting milk only and refuse any solid food! We would be distressed at their inability to gain strength.
In today’s text, these people had an introduction to the basics of the faith but were dull to hearing more. They could be compared to children satisfied to just be enrolled in the first grade for the rest of their life. We must always see the basics of the faith as our foundation upon which everything is built; however, you never stop with just a foundation.
“Dull of hearing” is a term that implies a sluggishness or slowness to hear the Word. They were not only indifferentto the Word of God they also failed to obey what they had learned. They had been Christians for a long time and by now they should have been teachers. However, they had not gotten past the milk of the Word.
Our spiritual discernment is sharpened by use. We will not have the strength to fight the battles of life if we do not apply the new truths we have learned from His Word. When we practice what we learn our understanding grows deeper. Spiritual maturity is not measured by the amount of knowledge or number of years, but by obeying God with a heart that yearns for Him.
“Because of practice” illustrates the steady day by day growth that takes place as we study God’s Word. As a young girl, I had to practice my piano everyday. It was not always something I wanted to do, but the lifelong benefits bless me immensely. A barometer of spiritual maturity is the time it takes after we read something in the Bible to the time it takes to put it into practice!
In order to grow from infant Christians to mature Christians, we must fine tune our discernment. We must train our minds to distinguish good from evil. Can you recognize temptation before it traps you? Can you tell the difference between a correct use of Scripture and a mistaken one? When wronged, can you respond in love? Maturity comes only by the constant practice of discernment. This is exercising our faith!