July 7, 2016

growth marks

Grow Up! (Hebrews 5:11-6:3)

Just about every home that has small children has a growth chart somewhere in the house. We sometimes used the inside of a closet doorjamb to mark the height of our kids and the date. Then, perhaps each year on their birthdays, we would measure them again. They were always excited to see how much they had grown!

But can you imagine how shocked and concerned we would have been if, instead of growing up, one of our children had grown down! We would have scheduled an immediate doctor’s appointment to find out what was wrong. Growth is normal and a cause for joy. Shrinkage would have been bizarre and a cause for alarm.

Many of the Hebrew Christians to whom our author wrote had grown down in their Christian walk, not up. He says that they had come to need milk again, not solid food. Imagine a teenager who quit eating regular food and went back to formula and Gerber’s pureed peas! Instead of being able to teach others, they now need someone to teach them the ABC’s of the Christian life all over again. The author wants to talk to them about Jesus being a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, but he fears that it will be over their heads. So before he plunges into that subject, he issues the strong warning that runs from 5:11-6:20. In our text, he is saying, “Grow up, folks!”

Believers must move beyond the basics of the Christian faith and grow up in Christ.

You have no doubt been in a situation where an adult was acting like a child: throwing a temper tantrum, or not dealing with a frustrating situation in a mature way. You want to shout, “Grow up! Act your age!” That’s what the author does here with the Hebrew Christians.

There are several thorny interpretive matters in the text. I do not have time to deal with each issue, but will present things as I understand them based on the context and the words used. I invite you to study more on your own and come to your own conclusions. There are five lessons here on Christian growth:

  1. It is possible to be a Christian, but to be slow to grow.

If there is spiritual life, there will be spiritual growth of some sort, but growth rates vary. Some become Christians and instantly drop the sins that have plagued their lives for years and never fall back. Others struggle to get rid of those sins for decades. I have a pastor friend who got saved in his early forties. He was a night club entertainer, addicted to alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. He instantly dropped all of those habits and began to follow Christ. But I know others who have struggled with those habits for years after making a profession of faith. They make a break from them, but then keep falling back into them.

The author hits the Hebrews with the fact that they “have become dull of hearing” (5:11). They didn’t used to be that way, but they have developed this spiritual malady. “Dull” is used only here and in 6:12 in the New Testament, and has the nuance of sluggish or slow. It is used in the Greek papyri of someone being sick and therefore lacking energy. So the word has the idea of spiritual laziness or lethargy. When there is an opportunity to get into God’s Word, this person says, “Nah, let’s see what’s on the tube.” When there is occasion to go and hear the Word taught, he says, “I’m tired. I think I’ll stay home and go to bed early.”

Verse 11 shows that teaching God’s Word is a two-way matter. There is the knowledge and ability of the teacher to explain things clearly and in an interesting manner. But also, there is the receptivity of the hearers. It is significant that the best teacher who has ever lived used to exhort His audience, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” “Take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him” (Luke 8:8, 18). If Jesus is the preacher and the message isn’t coming through, guess who is at fault? When hearers are dull, teaching is difficult.

I’m talking here about motivation. Motivation is the key to learning. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6). Hunger and thirst are strong motivators! When you’re hungry or thirsty, there is only one thing on your mind, to satisfy the craving for food or water. If you are driven by the hunger or thirst for righteousness, you will be satisfied (Matt. 5:6). If you think, “Ho hum!” not only will you not grow; you won’t even know what you’re missing!

There is one other lesson in 5:11: There is no neutral in the Christian life. Either you are growing or you’re shrinking. Which is it for you right now? We fool ourselves into thinking that we’re just treading water, but the strong current of the world, the flesh, and the devil carries us backwards if we’re not striving to move ahead. Let me shoot straight: if you’re not making time daily to spend in God’s Word and in prayer, you’re not growing, you’re shrinking! You’re going from eating meat back to the formula and pureed peas. That stuff is great for babies, but it won’t sustain a growing teenager or adult.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Ann D. she fell and hit her head, there may never be a full recovery.

Pray for John and Jay, father and son, the father wanted his son to be a “good times” guy, just like his dad, now they’re both struggling with addictions and the father is sorry he ever started his son down this path.

2 Responses to “spurt”

  1. Blessings on all of our prayer warriors, God Bless

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