Summary: It’s time to grow up... (#15 in the Unfathomable Love of Christ series)
“As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;”
E. K. Simpson, in commenting on this verse, points out that the Christian is to be ever a child and childlike in one sense of the word, pertaining to their faith, but not child-ish. In reference to verse 14 he says:
“What is here censured is the fickleness of children’s volatile moods, shifting like a kaleidoscope, dazzled by the first glittering bauble or flimsy distraction that catches their eye, and liable to be beguiled by every siren ditty of allurement within earshot.”
It is with a sense of chagrin that I must respond to Simpson’s statement with the observation that he has accurately described the larger population of today’s church.
Now I would suppose, human nature being what it is, that from the very beginning there have been individuals in the body of Christ who are perpetual children, in that they haven’t the mental capacity, or else they do not possess the personal incentive, to pursue maturity.
These, we will always have with us. There’s no point in complaining about them; they will come and go, and like the rest of us they will answer only to God for the degree of effort or lack of effort they put in to the spiritual disciplines that grow their faith. And of course, in the case of those who simply lack the mental capacity, it is our duty to care for them and teach them what we can, and love them through.
But there is a childishness that entire churches, indeed, entire denominations are guilty of clinging to, that is born of and proceeds from a certain lackadaisical attitude that says, ‘I’ve gotten on the Christian bus, someone else is doing the driving, and I have my Christian novel and my sanctified snacks, and I’m on my way to Heaven, I’ve reclined my seat and I have my lap blanket… don’t bother me.’
Now I’m not specifically or directly addressing the absence of faithfulness to duty here; not talking particularly about an unwillingness to minister or serve in some capacity.
But I am talking about an unwillingness to learn and grow in the faith, to allow themselves to be put in the way of the testings that will strengthen and mature them, and to a large degree, that unwillingness stems from a fear that they might be called upon by God or man, to shoulder the responsibilities that maturity calls for.
Now Paul is talking about results here in verse 14. He says, “As a result…”
Your different translations use different words to begin the verse, but they all point back to what he has said in the past 13 verses.
If we walk in a manner consistent with what we’ve been called to, preserving the unity among us and all, accountable to each other, take advantage of the gifts Christ has given to the church for the sake of our spiritual growth and maturity, then the result will be that we will no longer be silly, unstable, easily distracted and easily deceived children.
So putting this idea of results in the negative, when we insist upon staying childish concerning our walk and our spiritual growth, the result then is we fall prey to every charlatan’s scheme and every ludicrous doctrine that comes down the pike.
For proper emphasis we have to leave our text today and go somewhere else. I generally do not like to do that, but today it is necessary because Paul wrote something to the young pastor Timothy that spoke then of the future, but now speaks of the present, and I want you to see it.
Turn to II Timothy 4, and let’s read the first few verses of that chapter together.
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom; preach the word, be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.”
ENDURING SOUND DOCTRINE
Isn’t Paul’s choice of words interesting here? “…they will not endure sound doctrine”.
That word, anecho means to bear with; to put up with. In II Thessalonians the same word is used, encouraging Christians to endure trials and persecutions. So what Paul is telling Timothy is that the time will come when people will consider the teaching of sound doctrine as painful and detestable as persecution and torture.