Summary: God desires for us to grow and mature in our faith, but we are slow to learn and reluctant to press on.
"Will You Grow Up?"
Our teenage and early adult years are often characterized by decisions that reveal our inexperience, lack of maturity, and desire for what we want and when we want it. Oftentimes people will describe these years as mostly marked by a lack of responsibility and a penchant for fun and frivolity. Many people would say that youthfulness is wonderfully illustrated by the two college seniors who were preparing for a week of final exams, but found themselves distracted by the many "End Of School" parties that were taking place on their campus. Faced with the dilemma of whether they should continue to study for their exams or go have some fun -- they decided to party instead. After an all-nighter they were faced with their biggest exam of the semester early on Wednesday morning. When the alarm went off early on Wednesday morning the roommates knew they were in trouble. All the way to class they plotted and schemed until they came up with their plan. When they showed up for the test they told the professor that their car had broken down the night before due to a very flat tire and they needed some more time to study.
The professor told them that they could have another day to study. That evening, both of the boys crammed all night until they were sure that they knew just about everything that could be asked on the test. Arriving at class the next morning, each boy was told to go to two separate classrooms to take the exam. Each boy just shrugged and went to the two rooms that were assigned to them.
As each sat down, they read the first question. "For 5 points, explain the contents of an atom." At this point, they both thought that this was going to be a piece of cake, and answered the question with ease. Then, the test continued. "For 95 points, tell me which tire it was."
We laugh because for most of us the story is more than a scenario, it has been a reality - only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. We understand some of the decisions that all of us have made in youthful ignorance, youthful irresponsibility, and youthful desire that blurs what is prudent, right, and wise. When we are young and we make those foolish decisions, hopefully there will be wise and understanding adults around us who will help us learn from our foolish decisions so that we can begin to make decisions that will reflect the fact that we are growing and maturing.
An erroneous assumption is oftentimes made by many of us that as we grow up physically we will mature as well. I don’t know where we’ve come up with this mistaken idea. I’ve made decisions as an adult that showed my lack of maturity. I know many folks who are 40, 50, 60 years old and older who are still living like kids, behaving like children, and have never grown up.
We don’t have much control over our physical development, but our emotional, psychological, and spiritual development are not linked to our physical development, they are inextricably linked to our relationship with the Lord. I meet with a group of high school kids on Wednesday evenings that absolutely blow me away with their hunger to grow spiritually. Our Bible study is called, "P.A.C.T." - an acronym that stands for Putting Away Childish Things. I came up with the name of our study from Paul’s statement found in 1 Corinthians where Paul says, " 11When I was a child, I spoke 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 NIV) The young people that meet together on Wednesday evenings are hungry to grow beyond childish behavior, immaturity, and spiritual lethargy and apathy - their heart’s desire is to grow into the fullness of God’s will and purpose for their lives.
On the other hand, I know folks who have been in the church for years. They were born into the church, their mothers and fathers brought them to church every Sunday, and they know all of the stories of the Bible. They can quote the By-Laws of the church, they can quote by rote the order of worship, but if their spiritual maturity were the deciding factor in which Sunday school class they attended, they would still be in Miss Audrey’s nursery. This tragic reality is the heart of our Scripture study for today. Let’s take a look at Hebrews 5:11-14 this morning.
11We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12In 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! 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:11-14 NIV)