In Part 1 of chapter 3’s devotion, we will look at spiritual growth. Believe it or not, spiritual growth doesn’t just happen. It is something that we must be intentional about in our life. Paul says that he desires to have spoken to them as “spiritual” but that he can’t. Paul invested 18 months in the church at Corinth, and now time has passed and he has expected them to grow more in their faith. However, we see in the end of verse 1 that they are still “babes in Christ.” Paul uses a physical illustration to teach a spiritual truth.
I am the proud father of four beautiful children, and so this illustration makes sense. When a child is first born, why do we give him or her milk? We give it to them because their stomachs cannot handle solid food. They are still growing and expanding, and the body is learning how to digest and process foods. However, long about the six month mark you begin to give some baby food. You continue to give them a little more “table” food until around their first birthday they are primarily eating solid food. They are relying on “table” food for the nutrition more and the milk less. This is a sign of natural growth. The same is true in the beginning for a Christian. They are not able to handle, understand, or process some of the deeper truths and theological discussions. They are not unintelligent or anything, they simply aren’t able to handle it at this time. However, as they grow in their faith through obedience to the Bible, they are able to handle more and deeper teaching. The church at Corinth wasn’t able to handle it because they were still fighting among each other. There was jealousy, fighting, and divisions in the church. Paul uses those things to tell them that they are living like they are not saved. A mature Christian is not going to get into the senseless debates of secondary doctrines that often cause division in a church. A mature Christian is going to understand that fighting with my brother or sister is not helpful to the cause of Christ. A mature Christian will understand that they are not to compare themselves to other Christians, but rather they are to compare themselves to Christ’s example. However, Paul says that they can’t do that because they aren’t growing in their faith. I wonder how many people Paul would say this to in our churches today? The truth is many people accept Christ, but they never grow out of their spiritual infancy. This has had a crippling affect on the effectiveness of the church today. In today’s culture there are many who want to debate the merits of Christianity and the teachings of the Bible. Yet, there are not many Christians who can sufficiently defend their faith. The result is more and more people are walking about from Christianity. I know that we are to walk by faith and not by sight, but God did not call us to check our mind at the church door on Sunday and Wednesday. Christianity is a logical belief system that can be understood and defended if we give ourselves to careful study of the Scriptures.
How does one become able to eat spiritual “steak” instead of spiritual “carnation instant breakfast?” The answer to that is found in John 15 where Jesus says that we are to “abide in Him.” That means we are to remain in Him, depend on Him, and follow Him. To do that is going to take a high level of intentionality. I am going to have to discipline myself to read the Bible, and ask for God’s help to live it out. Not only is spiritual growth not automatic, it is not easy. If you are going to grow in your faith you are going to have to know that it will be difficult. The Bible will confront you with sinful actions and attitudes that you must allow God to change. You are going to have to set out a regular time to read the Bible and to pray asking for wisdom to live it out. It may not be easy, but I assure you it is worth it.
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him