CODE YELLOW ALERT
Warning About Immaturity
* There has been a dramatic shift in our society over the past generation.
We have gone from a sense of duty and responsibility to a demand for services and entertainment. The society around us has put great emphasis on "how do you feel?" as being more important that "what should we do?" Our society has turned inward rather than outward, a reflection of self absorption and immaturity.
* It is tragic, but the Church can reflect society all too much. Probably the
weakness of Churches today is that they fail to challenge those Christians in the congregation to move on to maturity. If we are not careful we will strive to make people HAPPY rather than make them HOLY, that we will make them FEEL GOOD rather than make them FAITHFUL and GODLY. We must be careful not to encourage just EXCITEMENT and avoid EDUCATION spiritually.
* The story is told about an old American Indian who attended a church service one Sunday morning. The preacher’s message lacked real spiritual food, so he did a lot of shouting and pulpit pounding to cover up his lack of preparation. In fact, as it is sometimes said, he "preached up quite a storm." After the service, someone asked the Indian, who was a Christian, what he thought of the minister’s message. Thinking for a moment, he summed up his opinion in six words: "High wind. Big thunder. No rain." Yes, when the Scriptures are neglected, there is "no rain." And with the dry spirit which has no spiritual rain becomes immature.
* Do you remember the story of “Peter Pan?” He was a boy who refused to grow up. Growing old is not always synonymous with becoming mature. In fact, one novelist named Shirley Conran wrote, “You’re never too old to grow up.” The humorist Dave Barry said, “What I look forward to is continued immaturity followed by death.” Without being unkind, a case could be made inside the church membership that this has become the modern day mantra for members.
* The real issue is this; Jesus never commands us to go and simply make converts which, by extension, means don’t just become converts. His Great Commission to us is to go and make DISCIPLES which again would mean, become disciples. Would it shock you to know that this word means a pupil, student, learner, and even carries with it the concept of a “scholar?” According to one Bible Dictionary, A disciple of Christ is one who believes His doctrine, rests on His sacrifice, imbibes(consumed by) His spirit, and imitates His example.
* One of the reasons that the church today is so weak is because of the Immaturity of the believers. It is seen in the everyday function of the believers as well as expressed in the purpose & mission of most bodies.
* This warning about immaturity is one every believer and body needs to serious look at. Let me offer you 3 thoughts from our text.
1. The Catastrophe of Spiritual Immaturity. Some may think the word “catastrophe” is overstated, but I submit it may be understated. Too many equate longevity with maturity. Candidly, I wish that were true, but in too many instances people have been church members for years on end and still have trouble digesting the meat of the word. The fallout from this truth is written in the blood of churches, pastors, staffs, and even denominations. In light of this difficulty, it is safe to say that spiritual immaturity has grown unnoticed and unchecked in many local assemblies until they are nothing but a house of cards waiting to fall down.
* In St. Louis in 1984, an unemployed cleaning woman noticed a few bees buzzing around the attic of her home. Since there were only a few, she made no effort to deal with them. Over the summer the bees continued to fly in and out the attic vent while the woman remained unconcerned, unaware of the growing city of bees. The whole attic became a hive, and the ceiling of the second-floor bedroom finally caved in under the weight of hundreds of pounds of honey and thousands of angry bees. While the woman escaped serious injury, she was unable to repair the damage of her accumulated neglect. Watch what happens with (what I call) spiritual ‘post-adolescent’ immaturity. In life, when one moves through adolescences into adulthood, maturity begins to develop. If it doesn’t;
a. The Difficulty of Lessons – In verse 1-10, the writer is attempting to explain the difference in a “Man-called” and a “God-called” preacher (priest). Then in verse 10, it’s almost like he gets exasperated because it is obvious to him that his readers cannot comprehend this teaching. So he says, “I want to teach you, but it’s difficult to explain to you.” Why is this? In the church today many people have difficulty with truly Biblical lessons. Start talking about gifts of the spirit, church discipline, and even a loving God allowing an unrepentant “good person” to go to a place called hell and you’ll see eyes glaze over. Start talking about consistency and priority of attendance and the same thing happens, it’s amazing. The next phrase gives us two eye-opening explanations of this phenomenon.
b. The Dullness of Listening – The last part of verse 11 in the KJV says it this way, “Seeing ye are dull of hearing.” The word dull means lazy, or better said, “You have become lazy listeners.” Here’s a question; If the catastrophe of Immaturity is seen in a dullness or a laziness to listen, what does it say about the average church member who is more interested in “how long the preacher preaches” that “what did the preacher say?” Candidly, we can say “preachers are boring” and I won’t argue. For me, I attempt to allow God’s word to come to life. Others say, “We can’t listening that long.” Yet, we listen to ballgames that last hours on end.
* It would seem that it is not a matter of time, but of taste.
c. The Deficiency of Learning – The word deficiency carries great meaning in today’s culture. Most people are deficient in some area. It could be a vitamin in your body, it could be blood cells which would make you anemic, it could be money, and it even could be in “learning.” The HCSB translates this verse (as we read), “We have become slow to understand.” Being slow to understand is a direct result of not listening. Before we can learn, we must listen and before we can live it, we must learn it. So we have to listen, learn, and then live. Never forget, learning is more than listening, listening is more than hearing, and hearing is controlled by our minds. That is why Paul says, “take each thought captive.”
2. The Consequences of Spiritual Immaturity. – Some will say, “I’ve been like this for years, so what’s the big deal.” It is a big deal for the Kingdom as well as for each of us. Imagine having a baby with all the joys, thrills, and even responsibilities a baby brings. That baby looks so cute taking turns sucking on its thumb and bottle. Changing the diaper is a time of bonding for most parents. Buying that formula and baby food is great because you know that this is the best way to take care of your baby. Fast forward 5 years. Your baby is still sucking on his thumb and bottle. You are still changing diapers and still buying baby food. How does that sound? Know what that sounds like to me? A tragedy. We know that no healthy 5 year old youngster would remain doing things he did as a baby. Yet, in the spiritual realm, we see it every day. Our text mentions 3 signs for us.
a. Spiritual Development – (Read verse 12) Isn’t this an interesting verse? It almost seems that every believer should apply himself until he is able to teach. Think about the implications; if every person in this body who has professed to know Christ for over says 5 years were ready to teach, what kind of impact would we have on our community? Our LEG (Life-Enrichment Groups) ministry would not have only 4 groups, but would have hundreds of groups all across this community which would reach outside the four walls of this church and be responsible for bringing dozens to Christ. Yet, the church ministry is hampered by the lack of spiritual development of her members. In fact, it is always a challenge to find teachers for our small Sunday school and inside ministries which is a result of lack of spiritual development among the members.
b. Spiritual Diet – Very little impacts a living being like their diet. The reasons mom’s are determined that their kids don’t feast on junk food and want them to eat a balanced diet is because of the desire for the kids to be healthy. We are told feed them a good breakfast before they go to school so they can think, comprehend, and learn. At school we expect that our children are taught and listen to the right things.
* When we don’t intake the right kinds of things it affects our appetite. For instance, when we don’t feast on the word of God privately, I’ll suggest that we come into a class or worship and our listening is dulled, our learning is deficient, and the lessons seem difficult because of our appetite. Could it be that our appetite for spiritual things has been replaced by an appetite for the things of this world? Think about it this way, how many times have you and I eaten junk food and destroyed out appetite for the food that gives us strength. Candidly, when we get full of junk, we have no place left for the good stuff.
* The Bible says that the person who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message and actually cannot handle the deeper truths. When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he said, “I was not able to speak to you as spiritual but rather as people of the flesh, as babes in Christ. I fed you milk, not solid food because you were not able to receive it.” If you give an infant solid food, you’ll cause them great pain.
c. Spiritual Discernment – Let’s read verse 14. It would seem that the breaking point between the mature and immature is found in the one who can distinguish between good and evil. Once again, think about a baby. He only cares about what he wants. He can’t make the distinction about what’s right and wrong; he only knows what he wants. And what he wants, he wants NOW! The mature person is the one who can tell the difference in right and wrong—and make the right choice. Here is the key issue, “their senses have been trained.” Did you see that? The KJV uses the word “exercise” while the Greek means “To exercise vigorously” and actually, to exercise “naked”. I suggest this would tell us to train our minds with no preconceptions of our own.
3. The Cure for Spiritual Immaturity. Maturity requires us to be engaged. It does not happen automatically. I’ll suggest three things we need;
a. A Good Foundation – Verse 1 uses this word foundation. It literally speaks of our underpinning. Here’s what everyone needs; consistent and effective time alone with God. This should include private Bible Study, prayer, and worship. There must be a time of listening for God. Additionally, a small group which challenges you in the word.
b. A Growing Faith – Our faith must grow as our love for God grows because the closer we get to Him, the more we understand who He is and what He is capable of doing.
c. A Godly Function – Many people never mature because they spend their lives in a pew being served instead of in a partnership where they serve. This means every person needs an outlet for their spiritual giftedness and growth. It is not optional.
* Make no mistake immaturity is destroying the local body.