How many times have you heard a baby cry in a public place? Probably a lot more than you can remember. They kick and scream, sometimes they throw things, maybe empty a box of cereal on their head – it’s a pretty interesting scene if you happen to be just standing there watching it. And we all tolerate it and usually don’t think twice about it, but why? Because they’re a child. They don’t know any better than to throw that toy or dump that cereal, and we don’t expect them to. But imagine, if you would, if you saw a thirty-eight year old man dump a box of cereal on his head? You’d be whipping out your phone and uploading that video to Youtube and it would have a thousand hits before you were even out of the store. It’s normal for a child to do something childish; it’s a completely separate thing when we expect that person to know better.
Paul remarked in 1 Cor. 13:11: “When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” The direct application to that passage is about the duration of spiritual gifts, and how when the Bible came (the “perfect”), the spiritual gifts (the “part”) would be done away with. But the illustration that Paul gave could not be more spot on when talking about our own spiritual maturity. When he was a kid, he did child-like things; when the fullness of age came, and he became a man, educated, mature, aware, he put away those types of things, as he should. Unfortunately, not everyone can say the same.
Part of being an adult is being mature (or so I’ve heard), and yet for many of us, we insist on remaining infants for most of our lives. Sure, we may have jobs, families, a mortgage and a 401K to plan for, but physical things doesn’t make a man mature any more than having a car makes someone a good driver. It takes wisdom, accelerated through age to be able to discern the times. The Hebrew writer would lambast his audience, because, in Hebrews 5:12, “by this time you ought to be teachers.” These were people – probably Jews – who had been learned in the scriptures, understood the prophecies, and yet were still stumbling around about a simple doctrines. Sound familiar?
The wisdom that he’s talking about in this passage would be discussed two verses later in Heb. 5:14, when we, after we have learned the basics and intellectually understood the principles, begin to see their application in everyday life: “Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” True wisdom isn’t about sitting in a Church building absorbing information mentally and filing it away for next week’s usage; it’s about learning, processing, and dwelling on it inside the active part of your brain so that you can call on it whenever possible! What good is a sermon on love if no one practices it during the week! Remember, Jesus stated at the end of the sermon on the mount, that the wise person is the one who “hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them” (Matt. 7:24).
It’s argued in James 2 that words without actions are worthless, and we extol the virtues of that in regards to water baptism and salvation all day long (and rightfully so). But brethren, if we stop the application there, the message falls short. Wisdom and maturity is not about thinking good things, it’s about doing them, and if we see a cause inside of our community, local congregation, or especially in our own spiritual lives, and fail to take action on it, then it’s just as good as not even noticing it in the first place. Let us all seek for maturity, and get down to business.Last modified: February 9, 2019