“But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14, NIV)
Maturity in Christ doesn’t mean you have reached. The things of God are infinite. You only deceive yourself to think that you have it all. The above scripture talks of ‘solid food’. Solid food is difficult to eat, but we are asked to use it ‘constantly’. The condition of maturity is only sustained through a constant gaining of value.
There are many cases where the distinction between good and evil is not black and white. One needs a constant training based on ‘solid food’ to tell the difference. People who remain on the milk and ice-cream of the Word of God may not mature; they may not tell the difference between good and evil.
Training is something many people don’t like. This is because of its demands in terms of rigour and vigour. But there are people who may find it easy to train physically but not spiritually:
“…train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:7-8 NIV)
What the above scripture means is that if one was to choose between the two (physical and spiritual trainings), the Apostle Paul advises that godliness is to be preferred because it has benefits for both this life and the life to come.
Spiritual training is what the Apostle Paul calls “training in righteousness” which is achieved through the God-breathed Word—All the Scripture, not just part of it (2 Timothy 3:16).
The Apostle Paul looked to have ‘achieved’ pretty much. God had given him deep insights and his ministry had spanned expansive territories. But despite all this, listen to what he is saying:
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (Philippians 3:12-16).
Maturity is not what you already are (forget the past), it is rather what you are training, straining and striving to be (straining towards what is ahead); maturity is refusing to relinquish what you have already attained. In other words, maturity is retaining what you already have as you aspire to gain more spiritual ground. Think of it this way, you are climbing the stairs going to the upper room, you shouldn’t take a step back.
Notice what the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:15: “All of us who are mature, should have such a view of things”. And the view is that we haven’t already obtained it all.
This means that you can be ‘mature’ at any level so long as you are straining to reach for more. Maturity is expressed by the kind of food you choose to eat constantly (solid food).
Maturity is a process the training of which needs perseverance:
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”—James 1:4.
Wrestle in prayer to get people mature:
“… [Epaphras] is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured”—Colossians 4:12, NIV.