1 Corinthians 3:3
3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?
Our spiritual lives are similar to our physical and mental lives in that we start out as youth and must grow into adulthood. As physical babies we must drink milk and absorb its nutrients in order to grow properly. Our minds must also learn simple truths in order to grow to understand more complicated truths. Even so, in our spiritual life, we have a journey of growth.
In 1 Peter 2:2, Peter tells us to desire the milk of the Word of God, that we may grow. This milk is the elementary principals of the word of God and of our great salvation. They are simple truths, like how we must turn away from sin and trust in Christ who died for us; also the command to love God and to love one another; the doctrine of baptisms, and of the laying on of hands, and of the resurrection, and eternal judgment (Heb 6:1-2). These are the first truths that we should learn and practice as we begin our Christian walk. They are foundational truths that will provide a platform for the deeper wisdom that God desires to share with us. But, if we never learn the simple truths first, we will never progress to the place of maturity where God wants us to be. And if we never come to a place of maturity, we will never fulfill the calling God has for our lives and never have the impact on this world as we should.
Paul recognized that the Corinthian church had not progressed spiritually as they should have. He could tell that they hadn’t from the reports that had been brought to him. From what he heard, he instantly knew that these spiritual babies had never taken that spiritual milk he had left with them and used it to grow up. What did he hear? He heard that they were envious, full of strife (arguing), and divisive (cliquish, gossips). These were sure signs that these Corinthians had not grown up. But these aren’t the only evidences of spiritual baby-hood. Peter lists some more in 1 Peter 2: malice (the desire to see things go bad for other people), deceit (dishonesty, cheating, shadiness), hypocrisy (pretending to be something you are not), and evil speaking (talking bad about others.) If these qualities exist in you, you can be sure that you have not grown to spiritual adult-hood.
So how do we grow out of spiritual baby-hood? We need to do what Peter says and desire the pure word (If you have no desire for word of God then you need to examine yourself and see what area of your life you have not yielded to God.) We must take the word and consume it as a baby consumes milk – not once a week or so, but several times daily. Just a little bit at a time is ok. And even if you can’t get out a bible, at least have a scripture or two always rolling around in your heart and mind. Think about it at work and while you are working around the house. Some of my best times in the word have been while I was washing the dishes. But also make sure you set aside time to dedicate to God’s word. Don’t just read books about God’s word. Go straight to the source. Read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Read the stories of the old testament. Read the letters to the church. Read the book of Proverbs. Read it all. It’s your milk. Don’t worry about the things you don’t understand. Focus on getting a general understanding of what the bible obviously teaches. Get that understanding and then make sure you DO what it says. Soon you’ll be ready to put on diving gear, because the bible is like an ocean – it’s depths are vast. Mysterious and exciting things dwell within it’s depths, but only the spiritually mature can explore it.
Focus on your spiritual grow. Too often we focus on our physical body (exercise, eating healthy, etc) and on growing the powers of our intellect (going to school, etc), but neglect our spiritual growth. Our spiritual growth should be the first thing we focus on. Our spiritual short-sightedness causes us to place importance on things that are temporal. This world is passing away. Our physical bodies will rot in the dirt. Our worldly education will soon prove of little importance. But our spiritual growth will determine our effectiveness in eternal matters. God has commanded us to go to work in His vineyard. But babies can’t work. Grow out of spiritual infancy. Give yourself over to spiritual things so that you can grow. Soon God will have you to work in His vineyard. You will begin to reap wages unto everlasting life.