September 2008 - Vol. 22

Keys to Growth and Maturity

Reflection on the Letter to the Hebrews
– Chapters 5:11-14 and 6:1-8

by Don Schwager

Why did the author of the Letter to the Hebrews call his fellow Christians “dull of hearing”, “immature”, and “unskilled in the word of righteousness”?  Were they indifferent or forgetful of the gospel message? 

There is a practical truth about the Christian life: We are either moving forward or sliding back. No one can stand still or remain indifferent for long without harmful consequences. A disciple of Jesus Christ is either growing in faith or falling back into self-reliance, growing in hope or letting setbacks lead to discouragement and hopelessness, growing in love of God and neighbor or falling back into selfish and hurtful desires. 

God’s word has power to heal, restore, and make new. But the choice is ours: receive God’s word with faith and obedience or chart one’s own course in a sea of wilful chaos and anarchy. We can always be learning and growing in the knowledge and love of God, unless we refuse. Do you listen to God’s word with faith and submission, and with an eagerness to grow and be transformed into the likeness of Christ?

What is maturity for the Christian? It’s not “perfection” in the sense we normally mean when we say that someone or something is “without flaw.” The scriptural understanding of maturity and perfection has to do with “being complete”, not lacking in what is essential.  The author of Hebrews says the “mature” are “those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14). A mature Christian is equipped to live his or her life with faith, hope, and love. He or she has thought through their faith. Faith and reason are not opposed, but build on one another to form a unity. Augustine of Hippo remarked that “faith is reason at rest in God.” The seven-fold gifts of the Spirit mentioned in Isaiah 11:2 include “wisdom, understanding, counsel, and knowledge.”  Do you seek to grow in your understanding of God’s word?

Go to > Next Page | 1 | 2 | 3 |

Also see > Introduction to the Letter to Hebrews

[Don Schwager is a member of The Servants of the Word and the author of the Daily Scripture Reading and Meditation website.]

Hebrews 5:11-14; 6:1-8

5:11 About this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God's word. You need milk, not solid food; 13 for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.

6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 with instruction about ablutions, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt. 7 For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.

(c) copyright 2008  Living Bulwark
publishing address: Park Royal Business Centre, 9-17 Park Royal Road, Suite 108, London NW10 7LQ, United Kingdom