Hebrews 5:11 About (the gospel of Jesus Christ) we have much to say that is hard to explain, since you have become dull in understanding. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food; 13 for everyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is unskilled in the word of righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.
In this passage the writer of Hebrews is taking believers to task who “need milk, not solid food”. In other words, they have remained at the fetal stage of faith rather than become mature Christians. What is the evidence he gives for this assessment?
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God.
There is an expectation that we Christians not only grow in our understanding beyond the basics, but that we also share these teachings with others. In other words, mature Christians share their ways of life and teachings with others. There is an expectation of “multiplication”.
Most of us understand this, but are afraid because we don’t believe ourselves to be adequately trained to share the content of their Christian faith. What if we don’t have the right words? What if someone asks us a question to which we don’t know the answer? We’ll look foolish! Nevermind…
14 But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.
What’s a significant dimension of maturing in faith? The ability to “distinguish good from evil”. We have to make these kinds of distinctions every day, as we go about life. What’s the best way to teach others this critical skill of distinguishing good from evil?
We teach others by inviting them walk with us and imitate our way of life.
We too often think of sharing faith as a lecture or spoken lesson. It can be that, but more often it’s teaching others as they watch how we live, not so much what we say.
My oldest child is 22 years old now. As is true of many teens and their parents, she considered me dumber than a rock for a number of years. It was hard for her to hear what I had to say, but she was always observing how her mother and I live – how we make decisions about all kinds of things, including what is good and what is not good.
One of the most difficult things to do as a parent is to watch your own kids make painful mistakes. But kids have to grow up. They need the freedom to make their own decisions – and take responsibility for the consequences. And we parents have to bite our tongues and watch our children learn painful lessons. We don’t want kids who can’t navigate life without us parents.
Yesterday this same young adult child asked to speak to me about some important things going on in her life. She has some important decisions to make and asked for my counsel. You read that right:
SHE ASKED FOR MY COUNSEL! 🙂
It was a blessing to walk her through what I believe to be the various things to consider in her situation, understanding that she (as an adult) is free to accept or reject my counsel as she sees fit. Yet, because it was she who initiated the conversation, I knew she was really listening. This is very different than when I offer to her my unsolicited advise – which usually gets rejected.
What am I getting at here?
Though my young adult daughter has had a difficult time listening to what her mother and I say, she has continued to observe how we live. And what she sees, in the midst of our occassional mistakes, is a general way of living that is truly “life-giving”, that is able to distinguish between good and evil, and succeeds in all the ways that really matter. In other words…
By the grace of God, her mother and I have demonstrated to her (over many years) a way of life that is worth imitating.
Let me ask you – do you have a life that is worth imitating? That’s a pretty challenging question, I know. I’ve asked this question to many people over the years and most people aren’t sure how to answer. I’m not asking if you are a “perfect” example, but are you a “living” example? In other words, are you one who demonstrates a life that isn’t perfect, but responds to mistakes with humility and grace? That embraces good and rejects evil? Do you make yourself available to others so they can learn by watching what you do rather than what you say?
Lord Jesus, you didn’t just lecture people, you invited them into your life so they could imitate you. Give us grace to do the same. Amen.