Hebrews 5: 12a In 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.
Are You an Immature Athlete? The title on the www.pgcbasketball.com site gets your attention (PGC Basketball runs athlete development camps). The author asks: “what is the difference between a mature athlete and an immature athlete?”. Their answer: “1 hour”.
“An immature athlete gets criticized in practice and immediately offers an explanation or an argument, or maybe just makes a face or a gesture. A mature athlete waits an hour to respond. He may, if he then feels so inclined, do the same things an immature athlete does. The responses themselves are not really what determine your maturity level. What matters is whether or not you have learned to consider your responses. Can you wait till you’ve cooled down and had a chance to think and put the comments or criticisms in context? Or do you feel compelled to answer a negative the moment it comes at you?”
I’d agree that your response to criticism is a good predictor of your maturity. Now there might be some understandable reasons why you react poorly to criticism. Perhaps you didn’t grow up in a safe environment where making mistakes was OK; instead you were shamed for each blunder. Perhaps you didn’t have a positive role model who demonstrated the humility it requires to admit errors and make changes. Whatever the reason, if you’re unable to handle criticism, you’re immature and need to make life changes.
Today’s scripture, from the book of Hebrews, is from an unknown author and while not certain of the intended audience, many scholars suggest it may have been sent to believers in Rome. These writings would have been timely as Christians in Rome were struggling under Nero’s persecution and were considering moving back toward the Mosaic Law. We’re not sure of the specifics of what they were doing, but the writer was disappointed that the group of believers were not maturing in their faith.
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In 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! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5: 11-14)
This message pertains to us today as well. There are many scriptures which compare spiritual maturing to physical maturing (1 Corinthians 3:1-3, 14:20; Ephesians 4:14). While it is natural that a new believer lacks spiritual maturity, it is shameful when after many years, believers are still infants in their faith. As believers we should be on a continual path of increased maturity. We all stumble, and the maturing path will not be a straight upward line, but there better be an upward trajectory or else there is something sadly missing in your spiritual walk. If you can’t look back a year, or two years, or five years and see a spiritual maturing then something needs to change in your life. While our salvation is immediate at the moment we become believers, like a ripening fruit, sanctification comes over time (2 Peter 3:18; Colossians 3:5; Philippians 1:6), but it only happens if we allow the Holy Spirit to do a work in our hearts. If we let him, God uses the Bible to cut into our hearts to sanctify us (Hebrews 4:12) and he can use our brothers and sisters in Christ to challenge us (2 Timothy 4:2). However, the extent of our maturing will be determined by our humility (Proverbs 15:31-33). Which do you choose? Will you remain a child needing to re-learn the basic lessons of faith, or will you become a mature Christian adult – a teacher?