This Sunday we are in the section of Hebrews that challenges the believers to pursue maturity. Listen to the words of Hebrews 5:11-14:Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
The problem identified by the author of Hebrews was a serious problem for the early church and it continues to plague the church within our culture. Over the next few chapters the author is going to begin an explanation of the heavenly priesthood of Christ. Unfortunately the author states that many in the church are not ready to engage the depths of his teaching. The problem is not that he is a dull teacher, but that they are dull hearers! The word translated “dull” in Hebrews 5:11 is translated “slothful” in Hebrews 6:12. It refers to a condition of spiritual apathy and laziness that prevents spiritual development.
Think about the fatal progression that we have seen throughout this letter. These believers started the process of spiritual apathy by drifting from the Word (Heb. 2:1-4), and then doubting the Word (Heb. 3:7-4:13). As a result, they were now “dull of hearing”. They have come to the place where they are unable to listen to the Word, receive it, and act on it. One of the first symptoms of spiritual regression is a dullness toward the Bible. This is also noticed when the Dgroup is dull, Community Group is dull, and the preaching of God’s Word is dull. You find yourself in this state when anything that is good for your spiritual growth is considered dull.
In contrast the author states that the ability to share spiritual truth with others is a mark of maturity. Not all Christians have the gift of teaching, but all can share what they learn from the Word. The recipients of this letter had been saved long enough to be able to share God’s truth with others. But, instead of helping others to grow, these Hebrew Christians were in need of learning again the simple teachings of Christian life. They were experiencing a second childhood!
Another important mark of Christian maturity is the ability to discern good from evil. We have already discovered that the people of God in Moses’ day lacked discernment and failed to claim the promised inheritance. In the same respect the readers of this letter were in danger of making the same mistake. The author is calling the church to careful thought, keen interest, thorough analysis, and close observation to the spiritual truth that he has been sharing. In addition he is saying that maturity is demonstrated by alertness, attentiveness, thoughtfulness, and above all, a love of truth. This is the maturity that should mark the faith community but unfortunately it is absent.
My prayer is that as a community of faith we will grow in our love for the Word and our ability to discern good and evil. I look forward to our time together this Sunday as we consider the marks of maturity identified in Hebrews 5:11-14
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