From Milk to Meat... Are you growing up?
In preparation for our baby, who is on the way, we have been doing a lot of research and taking all sorts of virtual classes. In one class, I learned about the benefits of breastfeeding and how amazing the body is in producing what a baby needs. I could go on about the awesomeness of God creating us, but I want to focus on the transition from milk to meat.
Babies are on a complete milk diet for the first few months of their lives; at a certain point, they move to solid foods and eventually to meat if the parents choose to go that route. We would think it to be pretty strange if a kid went to kindergarten and at lunch all they had was milk. Teachers would be concerned, and I am sure they would notify the parents that their child was not eating. The cause for alarm is simple: a 5 year old child needs a balanced diet; milk is not enough to supply their needs.
I bet you can see where I am going with this. In 1 Corinthians, Paul lets us know that milk alone is not a sufficient meal for a mature Christian.
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (3:1-3, NKJV)
Again the inspired writer says in Hebrews 5:12
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”
There comes a time in every Christians walk when milk just won’t do. So, how can we know if we are growing properly? Unlike in school, there is no “reading level” or “end of grade test” to let us know exactly where we should be in our spiritual walk. Our guide is not as simple as checking boxes. Everyone is on their own spiritual walk, and some people walk faster than others. However, there are a few indicators that we are progressing in such a way that pleases our Father in heaven.
The first thing I would like to pull out is true repentance. Repentance first begins with godly sorrow and ends with salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). In this passage we see that it's not about being sad you got caught, it is about truly feeling sorrowful that you fell short of the will of God then making a decision to change your actions. The heart repents, but actions must follow. When you are at the point in your walk where it hurts you to sin because you know it hurts God then that is growth. That is not to say we should wallow in our mistakes—we know that we serve a forgiving God (1 John 1:7). However, it does mean that we do not take sin lightly.
Next, do we have a thirst for knowledge of God’s word? This one was hard for me. If you ask anyone close to me, I do not like to read. Even from childhood it was never a pastime I enjoyed, so I had to find ways to enjoy reading and studying the word of God. I will listen to sermons, read commentaries on the scriptures, listen to christian podcasts with my husband or even listen to the audio bible, but there is no replacement for reading the word of God. The key here is to be intentional about your study time and stick to it. Have a plan for what you are reading and allow the word of God to change your heart. Once you see how powerful the word is, your thirst for knowledge will grow (Matthew 5:6). You will also feel more confident in sharing his word with others.
Another sign of growth is the desire to please God only. This one is tough in the age of instant gratification. We want what we want, and we want it now. As Christians, we have to be willing and ready to deny ourselves. Jesus tells us in Matthew 16:24
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
Denying our desires is not easy, but the more we grow the more our desires should be to please God. Also, this means we have to fight the urge to please others. Only Jesus can get us to heaven (John 14:6), not our friends or family members. Our worldly friends should see a difference in us the closer we grow to Christ. They should see that the only one we wish to please is our Father in heaven.
Finally, a desire to be with the saints is an indicator of growth. Do you wake up excited on Sundays? Do we find ourselves missing our Christian brothers and sisters during this pandemic? Do we long to be in heaven with the saints? Our desire should be to be around the faithful. This is not to say we cut off everyone else (how can we save the lost if we never interact with them)? But, we should value the relationships we have with those who are living for Christ as we are. We should not be offended if we miss a service and someone comes up to us to say they missed us last week. We should appreciate the accountability that comes with being a member of the church. I once heard someone describe the creation of Eve as God creating a community. I never thought of it that way, but I can see what this person meant. By creating women God created marriage, family and community. We are not meant to walk on this journey alone. We need each other, and as we grow closer to Christ we should also be growing closer to our brothers and sisters.
When in doubt 2 Peter 1:5-7 gives us the closest thing to a checklist for spiritual growth. If we can read and apply these virtues then we are sure to go from milk to meat.
“ 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”