Summary: As children grow physically, they learn to eat solid food that gives them strength and vitality. In the same way, every believer needs to take on the responsibility to feed themselves on solid spiritual food. To fail to do this is to remain spiritually we
Opening illustration: Watch a video clip of a person who doesn’t want to grow in maturity.
Introduction: Many of the Hebrew Christians to whom our author wrote had grown down in their Christian walk, not up. He says that they had come to need milk again, not solid food. Imagine a teenager who quit eating regular food and went back to formula and Gerber’s pureed peas! Instead of being able to teach others, they now need someone to teach them the ABC’s of the Christian life all over again. The author wants to talk to them about Jesus being a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, but he fears that it will be over their heads. So before he plunges into that subject, he issues the strong warning that runs from 5:11-6:20. In our text, he is saying, “Grow up, folks!” Believers must move beyond the basics of the Christian faith and grow up in Christ. You have no doubt been in a situation where an adult was acting like a child: throwing a temper tantrum, or not dealing with a frustrating situation in a mature way. You want to shout, “Grow up! Act your age!” That’s what the author does here with the Hebrew Christians.
What is the Identity of a believer growing progressively towards maturity?
1. Outgrow the stage of drinking Milk (vs. 12-13)
Motivation is the key to learning. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5: 6). Hunger and thirst are strong motivators! When you’re hungry or thirsty, there is only one thing on your mind, to satisfy the craving for food or water. If you are driven by the hunger or thirst for righteousness, you will be satisfied (Matt. 5:6). If you think, “Ho hum!” not only will you not grow; you won’t even know what you’re missing!
There is one other here - there is no neutral in the Christian life. Either you are growing or you’re shrinking. Which is it for you right now? We fool ourselves into thinking that we’re just treading water, but the strong current of the world, the flesh, and the devil carries us backwards if we’re not striving to move ahead. Let me shoot straight: if you’re not making time daily to spend in God’s Word and in prayer, you’re not growing, you’re shrinking! You’re going from eating meat back to the formula and pureed peas. That stuff is great for babies, but it won’t sustain a growing teenager or adult.
The idea here is that they had passed from the hopeful condition in which they were when they showed that they had an acquaintance with the great principles of the gospel, and that they had become such as to need again the simplest form of instruction. This agrees well with the general strain of the Epistle, which is to preserve them from the danger of apostasy. They were verging toward it, and had come to that state where if they were recovered it must be by being again taught the elements of religion. Like little children. You can bear only the simplest nourishment. The meaning is, that they were incapable of receiving the higher doctrines of the gospel as much as little children are incapable of digesting solid food. They were in fact in a state of spiritual infancy.
Referring to the food of children Paul states here about those Christians who resemble children in this respect, that they are not capable of receiving the stronger food adapted to those of mature age. Dull hearers make the preaching of the gospel difficult and even those who have some faith may be dull hearers, and slow to believe. Much is looked for from those to whom much is given.
Condition of who only drink milk (babies) for their survival: Flabby and weak bodies; think, talk and behave just like babies; don’t walk or run like normal people or even who are growing; lazy and always want somebody to do all the stuff for them (even to the extent of changing their nappies). Just check out the spiritual application of this estate.
Just about every home that has small children has a growth chart somewhere in the house. We sometimes used the inside of a closet doorjamb to mark the height of our kids and the date. Then, perhaps each year on their birthdays, we would measure them again. They were always excited to see how much they had grown! But can you imagine how shocked and concerned we would have been if, instead of growing up, one of our children had grown down! We would have scheduled an immediate doctor’s appointment to find out what was wrong. Growth is normal and a cause for joy. Shrinkage would have been bizarre and a cause for alarm.