Our son got a pretty good start in life, weighing in at 10 lbs 4 oz! One time when he was still not quite walking we were in a store to buy him some shoes. The shoe clerk, after putting some shoes on him asked him to walk to see how they fit. He just assumed that because of his size he was already walking and when he realized he couldn’t was a bit embarrassed thinking that there was something wrong with him–until we told him his age! We have expectations of when babies usually learn to walk, talk, use the potty, etc. If they are very late in doing so, we get a bit concerned, wondering if they ever will. Along with growing older we expect certain levels of growth and maturity. Since we only get to see our grandchildren every few months, we can observe their having grown physically, but also can observe the accompanying growth in maturity. For parents who are around their children every day, the growth is harder to notice.
Occasionally we get the opportunity to see someone that we haven’t seen for many years, which was the case a couple times this past year. We wonder, will we recognize them? Will they recognize us?! You see aging is not something we can really control–no matter what the advertisers try to sell us. We all grow older. That’s not an option, but maturing with growing older–that is an option. If a baby doesn’t mature as it grows older, that is sad. If a Christian doesn’t mature in his faith as he grows older, that is a great tragedy!
As parents are rearing children they may on occasion say to them, “Act your age!” meaning that they are behaving childishly for how old they are. Well, I’m sure our Heavenly Father would often say that to us as well. Jesus had spent three years with His disciples, teaching them, demonstrating to them His deity, yet He knew that there were things He couldn’t share with them because they weren’t at a place yet to understand, and they wouldn’t until He left and sent the Holy Spirit to live in them. He said to them, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear (understand) them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth…” (Jn. 16:12,13). His disciples, of course, not only did not yet have the Holy Spirit living in them to guide them, they did not have the completed revelation of the written Word of God, and we know that “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Ro. 10:17). We mature spiritually as we listen to, read, study, meditate on, and obey the Word of God. If we are not consistently in the Word, we really can’t grow. We will stay babes in Christ. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth he said, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh (carnal), as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for your were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able” ( I Cor. 3:1,2). The author of the book of Hebrews gave a similar rebuke/challenge, writing: “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 your ought to be teachers, your 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 a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity…” (Heb. 5:11-6:1). Implied in Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians and in this challenge to the Hebrew believers is the fact that maturity involves time and it take, a growing knowledge of God’s Word and experience in the use of the Word in discerning between good and evil. Obviously at this time in both cases the believers should have matured more than they did and were being rebuked for their lack of growth and were challenged to get growing!
I’m sure the situation is no different today. We have many believers–probably the majority–who seem content remaining in an infant stage of development. Oh, they’ve been miraculously “born again” and given new life in Christ, but their growth has been stunted for various reasons. They may be regular attenders at church services, but they just “sit and soak and sour!” They never really apply personally what they are learning and don’t spend time on their own studying God’s Word and they very seldom, if ever give out what they are taking in. Staying healthy and growing spiritually is much like staying healthy and growing physically. We need proper nutrition, proper rest, and proper exercise. If we are not growing, one of those three things is being neglected–probably for a majority it is lack of exercise. The writer of Hebrews said, “by this time you ought to be teachers.” Paul challenged his understudy, Timothy, saying: “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witness, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (II Tim. 2:1,2). Note the principle of multiplication as we pass on what has been shared with us to others who will do the same, which, by the way, is why each of us has had the privilege of coming to a saving knowledge of Christ. Someone passed on the Good News to us. Paul modeled that in his life, ‘practicing what he preached.’ He wrote to the Corinthians, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel…for I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received…” ( I Cor. 15:1-4).
So, how about you? Are you “acting your age?” How long have you been a Christian? Are you still growing? Remember, “If you think you’re ripe, you’re rotten. If you think you’re green, you’re growing!” As long as you are still breathing, you can still grow spiritually. The resource and potential for growth is infinite. Are you teaching others? Why not? Let’s “get growing” and sharing with others what we are learning from God’s Word and have applied in our own lives.
P.S. Speaking of getting older, thought you might enjoy these thoughts on aging:
“God grant me the senility to forget the people I have never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones that I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.”
Now that I’m ‘older’ here are some things I have discovered:
1. I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it (cf Job 1:21; Eccl. 5:15).
2. My wild oats have turned into prunes and All Bran.
3. I finally got my head and heart together; now my body is falling apart (cf Eccl. 12:1-8).
4. Funny, I don’t remember being absent minded.
5. If all is not lost, where is It?
6. It is easier to get older than it is to get wiser.
7. I wish the buck had stopped here; I could sure use a few.
8. It’s hard to make a comeback when you haven’t been anywhere.
9. If God had wanted me to touch my toes, He would have put them on my knees!
10. When I’m finally holding all the card, why does everyone decide to play chess?
11. It’s not hard to meet expenses–they’re everywhere.
12. The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
13. By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he’s too old to go anywhere.
14. You can get older and still look like a million bucks–wrinkled and like you’ve been handled a lot!
15. At a certain age, if you don’t wake up aching somewhere, you may be dead–check the obit’s!
16. My doctor recently told me that jogging could add years to my life. I think he was right. I’ve only been jogging once and feel ten years older already!
17. If your friends can accurately guess your age, you need to find dumber friends.
18. “We could certainly slow down the aging process if it had to work its way through congress!” (Will Rogers)
19. If you live to be 100, you’ve got it made. Very few people die past that age!” (George Burns)
20. These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the “hereafter.” I go, somewhere to get something and then wonder: “What am I here after?”