His expression was unforgettable. As he moved the banana around with his tongue, he looked surprised, then shocked, then horrified. Back out the banana came! He wasn’t ready.
While we chuckled at the sight of that little contorting face, what the author of the letter to the Hebrews is talking about in today’s passage is no laughing matter.
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:11-14
It is one thing for a tiny baby to not be ready for solid food. It is another thing entirely for an adult to insist on going back to a liquid diet.
The people who received this letter were not new believers. These were men and women who had put their faith in God and walked with Him, but had “become dull of hearing.” Not only had they neglected to grow in Christ, they were backsliding – going from the solid food of truth to needing spiritual milk… just the basics.
Three points stand out to me in Hebrews 5:11-14: guard against being dulled to truth, discern between good and evil, and grow.
Guard Against Being Dulled to Truth
The original readers of Hebrews had become dull of hearing. One of the fastest ways to become hard of hearing is to constantly expose yourself to very loud noises. This is true physically, and it is true spiritually.
I will be the first to admit that my life is so busy that it is easy to let important things slide off my radar. Really important things. I am certain that thanks to the breakneck speed that is now the norm for our culture, I am not the only one. We are surrounded by so much noise, all the time. It requires intentionality to quiet the noise and protect our spiritual ears.
To hear truth in the midst of so many other sounds takes a commitment to both turn down the volume on wrong messages, and pointedly listen to God.
Discern Between Good and Evil
When you have made the decision to implement volume control in your life, you have to know what to turn down and what to turn up. This requires discernment.
Discernment is a gift from God by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, but Hebrews 5:14 points out that we do not play a passive role. “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
We have to practice discernment. Constantly. With God’s help we look at the influences in our lives and we ask, over and over: Is this acceptable to you Lord?
The Point is to Grow
The author of Hebrews does not say, “You should be perfect by now, but you are acting like babies!” Maturity is a very different thing from perfection.
Maturing means we are growing. God knows where you are on your journey. I do not ask my 10 year old to drive to the store to buy bananas. But I do ask my 19 year old to do so. My younger son hasn’t failed me because he can’t drive yet. He is not ready. But some day he will be!
Choosing to tune out the distracting things of the world, intentionally turning up the volume on God’s voice in your life, and practicing discernment will all help you walk forward in your journey with Christ and grow in spiritual maturity.
You Can’t Do it in Your Own Strength
But wait! If we end there, then all we have done is increased our to do lists. How does this look?
Note to self:
- turn down volume of world
- turn up volume of God
- practice discernment three times a day
Ack! Yes, you need to be an active player in this process of growing. But we are not supposed to just squeeze our eyes shut and clench our teeth and muscle through: I will grow Lord, I will! Here I go! Growing!
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16
This is our High Priest Jesus: perfect, compassionate, understanding, merciful, ready to lavish grace on us when we need it. And we need it.
1) According to Romans 10:17, how can we hear with spiritual ears?
2) Look up Ephesians 4:15, Colossians 1:9-10 and 2 Peter 3:18. What do these verses add to your understanding of growing in spiritual maturity? In what specific ways to they apply to your life?
3) Journal a brief synopsis of your spiritual journey. Where is God leading you next?