Week 7: The New Testament and Children Cont’d
Day 3: Growing Up, Part II – Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 4:13,14; 1 Corinthians 14:20; 13:11; 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Peter 2:2; Matthew 18:3
To some extent, Paul opened his conversation with the Corinthians regarding maturity in 1 Corinthians 13 when he said, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)
A lot of people don’t like to face this fact, but there comes a day when we have to put aside childish things. We have to step up and be the adults we were meant to be. When a child such as the one I mentioned yesterday never grows because of a medical issue, it is sad. But, when maturity never comes because of the choice not to put away childish things, it is shameful. Paul didn’t want that for the Corinthian believers. He wanted them to grow and become strong men and women of the faith. This was an area in which they seemed to greatly struggle:
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and division, are ye not carnal, and walking as men?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
I wouldn’t walk up to an infant, hold out a steak and expect them to eat it. Not only are they missing the teeth to chew it, but their systems are not ready to digest it. A grown man, on the other hand, will most likely revolt at the thought of being fed baby food.
This is how we are to be spiritually, desiring milk in the beginning but growing into the deeper things of God’s Word as we mature. Here Paul tells the Corinthians that they have not matured because they are still carnal. They are still looking at the fleshly things of this world rather than setting their affections on the things of God. They envy one another. They fight with one another and are divided by silly things like who baptized who. He wants them to put those things behind them and go deeper into the things that matter.
We find a similar exhortation by the writer of the book of Hebrews, whom I personally believe to be Paul. In Hebrews 5, we sense his frustration that, when they should already be mature, they are still babes:
“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 have become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For everyone that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:12-14)
I love this passage because it so clearly lays out and solves one of the biggest areas of need among Christians today. So many choose to know God and the Bible only on the surface, but God wants us to know more of Him. He wants us to grow in that knowledge by becoming skillful in His Word and by applying it, so that we can discern between good and evil. Athletes who never practice, never excel. Christians who never search the Scriptures and apply them to their lives never mature.
The Apostle Peter made a similar reference in 1 Peter 2:2,3, however he compared us to babes in that we should be desiring the Scriptures as babes desire milk, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” When a baby is hungry, everyone knows about it. They go after that milk with urgency, as if they will die in the next ten seconds if they don’t get it. God wants us to have the same hunger for His Word. He wants us to go after it with everything we have. He wants us to come to know Him and His desires more and more. Stagnant was never part of God’s plan. He wants us to be eager to grow.
Interestingly enough, this all sort of ties back into the section we just completed from Mark 10 and Matthew 18. (See New Testament Week 6) Jesus said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) God doesn’t want His children to be Toys “R” Us kids. In faith and desire for the Word, we are to be as babes and children; but in understanding and maturity, we are to be as men.
So, what does all of this have to do with the fatherless? Well, much the same as many of the other parts of this study have related to them, it is marked with the enormous question, How? You see each group of believers being addressed has one thing in common: Someone who cared for them enough to help them grow. If a child has never had a parent to teach them and instruct them, how will they learn to do what is right, to make wise decisions, to behave appropriately. This may sound terrible, but it is true: Immaturity is rampant among orphans who have had no consistent adult influence in their lives. If no one has taught them how to mature in the things of this world, how will they know how to mature in the spiritual? If we ourselves have not stepped out of our baby shoes and into our boots, how will we help them to do so? In both the Old and the New Testaments, God calls us to guide and instruct the Fatherless. The question is, Will we?
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Also Check out Rachel Miller’s Book: The King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption