“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.”
We can sense something of the writer’s frustration in today’s verse passage. The Christians he was writing to had been long enough in the faith that they should have been functioning as knowledgeable, responsible and mature Christians. In word and deed, they should have been capable teachers of sound doctrine. Instead, laments our author, they had to be re-taught the doctrinal basics of our faith. At first blush, it looks like this community failed to make any real progress in their journey to Christian maturity. It seems as though they received basic Christian doctrines, but only half-heatedly, and without deeper understanding. Like so much in the Bible, however (and in our own experience in fact), things are much more complicated. To start with, the writer observed that his readers actually started well. They were making progress; they were moving toward maturity. Slowly, imperceptibly perhaps, they began to drift from their first love. They became infantile in their faith. They became the kind of people that required the milk—not the meat—of the word. He elsewhere reminded them that Christians “ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 2:1). As Christ’s followers striving against sin moving to maturity, we face a double challenge. On the one hand, we are called to a lifelong diligent study of the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15). The cares and pressures of this life often work together to squeeze that divine imperative to the sidelines. Satan knows, after all, that the word of God is an irresistible weapon against the forces of darkness (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). God’s word provides us with exactly those things our enemy wishes to conceal from us, namely, practical instruction (Proverbs 6:23) as well as patience, comfort, and hope (Romans 15:4). On the other hand, we must not be deceived into thinking that Christian maturity consists only of our familiarity with the Scriptures. Only when we experience Christ’s instructions to us being lived out in our thoughts (Psalm 1:1-2; 2 Corinthians 10:5), in our words (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6; 1 Peter 4:11), and in our actions (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:8, 14; 1 Peter 2:12) can we claim to be maturing. The mature Christian is one who kicks hard against sin in his flesh (1 Corinthians 9:27) and who steadfastly resists the spirit of the age (Ephesians 6:11-12; James 4:7). The mature Christian seeks ways in which he may serve God by being a blessing to others. He strives mightily to give no offence (1 Corinthians 10:32), neither is he easily offended (1 Corinthians 13:5). May God help us all move toward maturity today, for His glory and for the good of others.
God bless you,