Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow"1 (Lyrics)
Is there anything cuter than a chuckling baby — happy, curious, and squealing with delight with every new toy? A baby exudes love, trust, and dependence to everyone in the room — often being the centre of attention. But how quickly the laughs of joy and love turn to screams of hunger and frustration! Now that really gets everyone's attention. A friend of mine had to time her shopping carefully for when her baby was happiest and most content, because when he wasn't happy, boy, did everyone hear about it!
The writer of the book of Hebrews used the image of a baby drinking milk to teach about spiritual nourishment to readers who needed God's Word to mature them in the faith.
Hebrews 5:12-14 – For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first 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 unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (NKJV)
Growing up in the church, I thought that only older grownups could be ministers and Sunday school teachers. But the truth is that all Christians can teach others; indeed, teaching another is a step towards spiritual maturity.
There are some funny animated films about adults suddenly being transformed into babies, and we laughed at the candid answers that kids gave to host Art Linkletter. However, it's pretty annoying to see adults acting immaturely, demanding their own way, and screaming for attention. In the Christian life, an unstable believer can be blown around by every wind of questionable teaching (Ephesians 4:14), or be stuck in their own playpen of doctrine or denomination. A baby is fixated on its parent; how easy it is for us to become fixated on Christian celebrities, rather than knowing the Word of God for ourselves! Babies sleep a lot and can become fussy and cranky; someone not mature in the faith may not be spiritually alert, and drive others off by their controlling and cross behaviour.
The phrase that really jumps out at me in this passage of Hebrews is by reason of use. We become spiritually mature by knowing our Bibles and by deciding to exercise what God teaches us by practice and daily habit of prayer and meditation. When we decide to discern this way, we mature as believers. We won't be ready to stick just any teaching in our mouths! Mature believers are recognizable by their discernment and unswerving focus on Christ, and their wariness of teachings not of Him seeking to enter their lives and minds.
How can we exercise our senses to discern good from evil? The Scriptures teach us, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" (Psalm 34:8 NKJV) Today, let's become skilled in the Word of righteousness, and by reason of use become ones whom God uses to teach others in His kingdom.
Prayer: Dearest Lord, we praise You for the gift of the Scriptures, through which You lead, teach, inspire, and nourish Your believers. As children who look to a parent, we look to You as our heavenly Father, to show us how to grow and participate in Your kingdom. Amen.