Are familiar with the word “immaturity?” Even if you’re not familiar with this word, you’ve almost certainly seen examples of it’s meaning. The word “immaturity” describes people who act more like children than adults and if you’re like most teens, the chances are probably pretty good that you’ve seen others in your age group who fit this description. Now if you’ve ever seen immature people for yourself, then you know that it’s not a lot of fun to be around people who don’t act their age.
Believe it or not, the Biblical book of Hebrews was written to a group of people who were also displaying a certain kind of immaturity- spiritual immaturity…
“You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others, but instead you have dropped back to the place where you need someone to teach you all over again the very first principles in God’s Word” (Hebrews 5:12a).
It seems that these people didn’t have enough spiritual maturity to effectively tell others about Jesus even though they had apparently been Christians for quite some time. In fact, their situation was so bad that they actually needed someone to go back and teach them the “ABC’s” of Christianity!
You know what this situation was like? Well, this would be similar to a modern-day high school student going to class and learning that C-A-T spells “cat.” Listen, you know that if a high school student still needs to learn that C-A-T spells “cat” then something is definitely not right. But this is exactly what was happening spiritually to the Christians here in the book of Hebrews.
This illustration provides a good comparison if you’re a Christian teen today. You see, your spiritual life is not very different from your academic life in a sense. For instance, as you move forward in school, your training advances with you as you grow in your education and build on the things that you’ve already learned, right? Well, this same idea should be also true for your spiritual life- as you move forward in your relationship with God, you should also be growing more mature in your faith.
For example, if you’ve been a Christian for some time and still don’t know some of the basic truths that are taught in the Bible then something is clearly wrong. As a Christian, you should be constantly moving forward in your spiritual knowledge just like you are constantly moving forward in your educational knowledge. Then as you grow in your spiritual knowledge you should be able to help others who aren’t as advanced, just like a High School student might help a younger person with their elementary school work today.
Unfortunately, the Christians in the book of Hebrews had not grown very much in their faith. While this lack of maturity was bad enough, there was still another problem…
“You are like babies who can drink only milk, not old enough for solid food. And when a person is still living on milk it shows he isn’t very far along in the Christian life, and doesn’t know much about the difference between right and wrong. He is still a baby Christian!” (Hebrews 5:12b-13).
This was not good. Instead of growing and becoming everything that they should have been, these people were still stuck in the diaper stage- they were like infants when it came to their relationship with God. Can you see how messed up this really was? If not, then think of it like this: if a 16-month-old person is still wearing a diaper, that’s normal and OK. But if a 16-year-old person is still wearing a diaper, then something is really wrong. But this is the equivalent of what was happening spiritually to the Christians here in the book of Hebrews.
This is something that you definitely don’t want for yourself as a Christian. Think about what it’s like to be a spiritual baby when you really should be spiritually mature…
- Babies have all their decisions made for them Is that really what you want spiritually? Do you want other people to make spiritual decisions for you or would you prefer to have enough real Bible knowledge to seek God and make those decisions for yourself?
- Babies are often placed in a crib or a playpen for their own protection Babies have to be confined because they can’t be trusted to be left on their own. But as children grow up and become more mature and responsible, they are given a lot more freedom. Isn’t this what you want for yourself spiritually?
- Other people feed babies Do you want other people feeding you what they think you should eat spiritually or do you want to eat for yourself? Wouldn’t it be better to go to the Bible and find out what God says for yourself?
- You have to watch babies carefully because they will often wreck anything they touch Wouldn’t you prefer to be a person who can be trusted to handle the things of God?
- Babies will put anything in their mouths If you put something into a baby’s hand, he or she will put that thing -whatever it is- right into their mouth. Babies will put anything in their mouth -even if it’s something that could kill them! You surely don’t want the spiritual equivalent of that, do you?
- Babies have no control over their bodies Babies basically spend all their time eating, sleeping and… uh, well, …you get the idea.
So what’s the solution to this problem of spiritual immaturity? Well, here it is…
“You will never be able to eat solid spiritual food and understand the deeper things of God’s Word until you become better Christians and learn right from wrong by practicing doing right” (Hebrews 5:14).
What’s the solid spiritual food that’s spoken of here? Well, “solid food” represents the good, solid instruction that you get from reading the Bible and then applying it in your daily life. It’s knowing what God’s Word says and means and then acting on it. Knowing the Scriptures and putting them into practice each day is the kind of thing that brings real spiritual growth. But spending time in the Scriptures is important for another reason.
You see, a Christian who doesn’t know what the Bible says and means becomes a prime target for all kinds of deception. A Christian who doesn’t read the Scriptures becomes an instant target for any false religion that sounds reasonable on the surface but is actually opposed to God’s Word.
A Christian who doesn’t know the Bible can also be an easy prey for “spiritual leaders” who speak well but are really out to take advantage of people who don’t know any better. Or such people may simply get weighed down by problems and difficulties and never become the winners that God wants them to be because they don’t know what the Bible says about handling troubles in life when they come.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to happen to you. You see, you can avoid many of the problems that come along with spiritual immaturity by simply making the decision to spend some time reading your Bible every day. It’s easy- just choose a commitment that works for you (say, one or two chapters or whatever you like) and then ask God to help you make it your priority to read that portion every day. Remember that God has plenty to say to you through His Word if only you are willing to take the time to listen.
Here’s another tip- whenever you read the Scriptures first ask God to help you to understand his Word and apply it each day. Then as you read through the Bible, ask yourself these three easy questions:
- What does this say?
- What does this mean?
- How should I apply this in my life?
Following and applying these few simple things will really help put you on the fast track to spiritual maturity.
Remember that times may have changed, but people are much the same as they were back in the days of the Bible. As you read about the way that God worked in the lives of each Biblical personality, you’ll find much that you can apply in your daily life and much that will help you grow to become everything that God intends for you to be.