Gotta Grow Up
Please read Hebrews 5:11-14 in your Bible. I used the NLT to prepare these remarks.
This will come as a shock to those of you who know us, buy occasionally my wife Kary will sigh loudly and exclaim, “I wish you’d grow up.” Turns out I’m not the only husband to be misunderstood in this way. Let’s begin today by sharing how some other husbands have handled this attempt at shaming.
Myron from Milwaukee wrote, “My wife told me I ought to grow up. Guess who’s not welcome in my tree house anymore?!”
Arturo from Andersonville wrote, “If I had a dollar for every time my wife called me immature, I’d have a LOT OF Hotwheels!”
Langdon from Los Angeles wrote, “My wife got fed up with my immaturity and left me on the day before Christmas. Now I’m all alone and crying because Santa didn’t come.”
Barney from Binghampton wrote, “When my girlfriend broke up with me because I was too immature, I thought, ‘I’ll show her.’ I took a deep breath, calmed myself, then rang her doorbell and ran away.”
OK, I’ve got to admit immaturity can be aggravating. Using youth as an excuse is a lot harder when you’re over sixty and have white hair! Today we look at a unusually personal portion of Hebrews, where Paul had to rebuke the Christians receiving his letter for being too immature to properly received the truth he wanted to share with them.
CONTEXT – In the preceding verse, Paul wrote about Jesus being A HIGH PRIEST IN THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK. Melchizedek was both a king and a priest, a man to whom Abraham gave a tithe of his possessions. Interestingly, he is frustrated in 5:11 because he wanted to say more about Jesus’ status as a HIGH PRIEST but could not because of the immaturity of the letter’s recipients. He will go on to say more about Melchizedek in chapter seven, where he showed that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham, as indicated by that gift of a tithe.
Spiritual maturity is evidence of a genuine faith.
1. Signs of spiritual immaturity.
The first sign of spiritual immaturity is spiritual dullness. (11) The word DULL is also used in 6:12. Here it is paired with insensitivity, there it is paired with apathy or indifference. The word means “lazy,” in this case, lazy about spiritual things. Their time and effort was spent elsewhere. This attitude is a precursor to apostasy. When you don’t care about the things of God, it’s easy to give up on them entirely.
The second sign of spiritual immaturity is unwillingness to listen. (11) Teachers do have to repeat instructions until all the students have learned the lesson. What tries a teacher’s patience is having to repeat instructions because the students were inattentive the first time. We can imagine Paul’s patience being tested by these people who were not getting it and not growing because they were lazy and inattentive.
A third sign of spiritual immaturity is when a person requires repeated instruction in the BASIC THINGS ABOUT GOD’S WORD. (12) The recipients of this letter could not use youthfulness as an excuse, as they had been believers for long enough time to have matured, and would have matured, had they been diligent to attend to it. Instead, they needed repeated instruction about the BASIC THINGS of the faith, things they should have understood when they first accepted Jesus as Lord. To keep revisiting these things indicates immature thinking. In common use, the Greek word translated as BASIC THINGS referred to the “ABCs” or simple math; the stuff that children learned early in their education. “Kid stuff” might be a good translation.
Fourth, a spiritually immature person subsists on MILK, not SOLID FOOD. (12) This verse repeats what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:1-2. Eating baby food is fine when you are a baby but eating like a baby when you’re supposed to be an adult is to be malnourished.
A fifth sign of spiritual immaturity is observed in a person who does not know WHAT IS RIGHT. (13) Basic moral teachings of right and wrong and the formation of the conscience are typically things we learn when we are young. A firm grip on right and wrong, good and evil is something we attribute to maturing people. Paul admonished them to grow up and ston being stuck in an early stage of Christian growth where they still have not learned WHAT IS RIGHT.
2. Signs of spiritual maturity.
The first sign of spiritual maturity is that maturing persons are qualified to teach our faith. (12) One qualification for teaching anything is to know the subject. One can’t teach others to follow Jesus without knowing Him oneself. A qualification for Christian teaching is to have the Spiritual Gift of teaching. A third qualification is that the teacher must be more mature than the students; otherwise, you have mutual learning, not teaching.
Second, spiritually mature people subsist on SOLID FOOD. (14) In verse fourteen, the contrast is between MILK, which is the only food that can be tolerated by a baby’s immature digestive system and SOLID FOOD, which is for more mature eaters. MILK represents the simplest formulations of foundational doctrines while SOLID FOOD symbolizes more advanced studies of the Bible and our faith. This contrast is a bit of an exaggeration and I wonder if Paul was trying to be humorous to take the edge off his rebuke.
A third qualification of spiritually mature people is that they have matured by means of TRAINING. (14) This Greek word for “training” is an athletic image. It literally means “to exercise naked.” This is SERIOUS training. It comes from the Greek word from which we get our word “gymnasium.”
The other kind of “training” is intellectual, indicating something we receive by instruction and book learning. Maturity is achieved, in part, by study. We must learn what God’s word says before we can put it into practice. Learning God’s word requires a Bible and a teacher.
Spiritually maturing believers possess the SKILL TO RECOGNIZE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG. (14; see 1 Corinthians 2:15) The word SKILL may be offered here as a contrast to TRAINING, the difference being that skills are developed by experience, not book learning. In any case, what marks a maturing believer is the ability to discern for themselves what is RIGHT and what is WRONG, what is true and what is false.
Spiritual maturity is evidence of a genuine faith.
In my Internet search for maturity, I found a couple sayings that sum up what maturity means to me. The first is “You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever!”
A better one, more appropriate to this Scripture passage, reads “Maturity isn’t about age, it’s about sensitivity, manners, and how you react.” Very true. Age just happens. Maturity is something we cultivate by working hard at showing sensitivity, have good manners, and reacting in a godly fashion to whatever happens.
Spiritual maturity, like any kind of maturity, happens with consistent study and effort. It doesn’t fall out of the sky and suddenly take us over. Maturity comes to those who choose to do the right thing and moreover, seek to do the right thing better and more consistently.
Immaturity jokes from https://upjoke.com/immature-jokes, retrieved on 21 October 22.
Maturity proverbs were found at https://www.zazzle.com/immature+jokes+gifts, retrieved on 21 October 22.