“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14)
I wish the New Testament writers had given us examples of those teachings which they classified as milk and solid food. The human tendency is to think of milk as the sweet, easily digestible stuff. Solid food, on the other hand, equates to a bucket of nails that hurts to swallow. Hence, Christians will tend to believe that spiritual milk consists of Jesus’ love and tenderness, while solid food amounts to the Lord’s discipline and austerity.
Some would fiercely disagree with this. For instance, the Nineteenth Century “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Spurgeon believed that the Lord’s love can only be fully appreciated by the mature. He believed that the young in Christ have a far clearer conception of God’s wrath, holiness, and judgment than they do of God’s love. Only the mature will begin to understand God’s love. Besides, the mature are the ones who carry the heavy burdens of life. They fight the spiritual battles and suffer many a wound. Therefore, they need the deep, deep love of Jesus – more than anyone else.
Remember, Paul prayed that we, along with all the saints of God, would be able to comprehend the height, the depth, the length, and the breadth of God’s love – and that we’d know God’s love through experience (Ephesians 3:18-19). This indicates that the grasping of God’s love does not come easy. It’s not something that comes natural to a babe in Christ. Paul’s prayer indicates that understanding God’s love is something to be attained and is only for the more mature believer.
Plus, there’s the aspect of intimacy. Only those who understand God’s love are capable of intimacy with Him. Babes may be quite familiar with nurturing. But nurturing and intimacy are not the same. Nurturing is one-sided. Intimacy, on the other hand, requires the giving of love as well as receiving it. Intimacy involves forgiveness and opening the heart to the one you love.
Compare it to marriage. God didn’t design sexual love for children but for adults. And please get out of your mind any notion of “recreational sex.” That idea – of selfish gratification without any commitment – is Satan’s invention. And God will judge those who practice it (Hebrews 13:4). Sexual love is God’s gift to the married couple. It is an essential escape for the husband and wife who carry the relentless burden of raising their children and providing for the home. Sexual love is for the mature man and the mature woman in the bonds of marriage. They fall into each other’s arms to experience acceptance, love, and healing after facing a hostile world.
And only the mature in Christ are capable of intimacy with God. Only they can understand the depths and unconditional nature of the Father’s love – usually through the heartbreak and joy of child-rearing.
The True Solid Food
No, don’t ever view God’s love as something only fit for babes in Christ. God’s love is never something we outgrow. To the contrary, it’s the parent, the laborer, the burden bearer, and the warrior that need and appreciate God’s love the most. The love of God is the true solid food intended for the mature saint of God. Let’s feast our souls upon God’s boundless supply.
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Dear Father in heaven, please open my eyes to Your love. Help me to grasp the height, depth, length, and breadth of Your love – and to experience it for myself. Help me to understand my need for Your love and to see that the pain in my heart is only meant to drive me into Your loving embrace. Heal me and satisfy me, O God, with Your love. Amen.
(Information from: Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, Hendrickson Publishers, 1995, p.716, December 23).