In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.Hebrews 5:12-14
Here is a case of arrested development. Here are people who have been professing Christians for many years. By this time they ought to have been teachers, but they need yet to have someone teach them the very ABC's of the gospel. We have at our home a three-year-old daughter. It is the undivided opinion of our family that she is the smartest, brightest, and cutest little girl that ever lived. But if, at this stage of her life, something should happen and her body kept growing but her mind stopped, and she went on saying the same clever things she is saying now all the while her body matured and grew into full womanhood, we would no longer find delight in what she says. Our joy would be turned to sorrow; we would feel great grief at the sight of our dear one suffering from arrested development.
That is what this author feels as he writes to these Hebrews There is a cloud of threat hanging over these people due to their immaturity. The writer makes three very important and insightful observations about this problem. First, there is the clear suggestion that age alone does not produce maturity. It is amazing how many of us think it does. We love this thought of inevitable growth. How often we say,
Just give us time. We will yet grow out of these hot tempers, catty tongues and jealous spirits. But time never brings maturity.
The second observation he makes is that immaturity is self-identifying. It has certain clear marks which provide a simple test that anyone can take to determine whether he belongs in this classification or not. There is an inability to instruct others. Though these have been Christians for years they have nothing to say to help another who may be struggling with problems. They can only understand the very simplest doctrinal treatment. They need milk, the writer says, instead of strong meat. They do not understand the divine program which results in right conduct, because they are themselves children and want only milk. There is also an inability to discern good from evil. It is such people who constitute what we may call consecrated blunderers, the ones who mean right and think they are doing right but are continually doing the wrong thing, creating problem situations, and difficulties with others.
The third observation the author makes is that arrested development is a very costly thing.
About this, he says,
we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. There is so much I want to tell you, he says,
which would make your starved humanity burst into bloom like buds in the spring if you could but grasp it, but you would not get it because you are so dull of hearing. The immature lose so much, and they risk even more. There is a very grave danger threatening these who continue in this condition of prolonged immaturity.
Lord, these words have searched me, have found me out, have made me to see myself. Thank you for that. I do not want to be self-deceived. Thank you for telling me the truth even though it may hurt, for I know that it is always to the end that I may be healed.
If we no longer want to be self-deceived, what are three ways we may clearly identify our arrested spiritual development? Are we concerned to consider the serious consequences of this immaturity?