About this 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 need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:11-14, ESV)
How do you get mature? The author of Hebrews gives us some clues when he has to say to his readers that they are not mature but are like babies who can only take in milk. He wants to talk about Jesus’ priesthood after the order of Melchizedek but can’t. Let’s make a list of what they needed to do and what we may need to do to grow.
- Sharpen your hearing. I am distressed by the number of times when someone tries to make a cogent remark on Facebook only to get responses that totally miss the point. A immature person doesn’t listen. Instead, he or she looks only for opportunities to vent or express a view but does not look for an opportunity to learn. Open your ears and your heart to see if God is not trying to teach you something. Even someone you disagree with can be your teacher. Humility is a requisite for learning.
- Try something beyond your current understanding. Challenge yourself to get off the baby food. I remember checking a book out of a Christian college library only to find it so difficult to understand that I sought out others who had checked out the book for help. They hadn’t actually read it. So my only hope was to try again. I read it again and it began to make sense. It became life changing, in fact. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on it. This has happened to me several times. The most powerful ideas are often harder to grasp. Peter talks about some of Paul’s “Scriptures” being hard to understand. Push yourself with God’s help.
- Apply what your learn. Maturity is the ability to discern what is good and evil and choosing the good. It takes practice because we are challenged in so many situations in life to make decisions about how the good applies. Your powers of discernment increase the more you exercise them. If you find a challenge to your life in Scripture but don’t apply and obey it you will find your heart getting duller and duller. You’ll remain a baby spiritually.
But what if someone never becomes anything more than babyish in their spiritual life? The author of Hebrews is going to speak to this.