Is it Reasonable to Grow?
Hebrew 5:12 For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. 13 For every one that partakes of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. 14 But solid food is for full-grown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.
I really like this passage in Hebrews because this passage it coincides with my philosophy. As a human being I believe that we should do our best to grow and get better at the things that benefits others and us. So I expect to be a better Christian today than I ways yesterday, next week or next year. When I read in this letter that Paul is concerned by the spiritual progress the Hebrew’s have been making. Knowing their History and how they use to memorise the whole Old Testament part of the Bible, they should be teachers and not students of God’s word. But now it seems as though they need to be taught all over again as babies.
And then he reminds them that you do know just like babies it means you are inexperienced in God’s word. You do not exercise your spiritually gifts thus your not spiritually mature. As babies you are not able to discern spiritually things. Therefore you are not able to discern what is truth and what is not.
This passage reminds me of psychologist’s Lawrence Kohlberg and Jean Piaget. Sorry I know this is not a psychology lecture but I would recommend to you to look at their theories for more information when you have time.
In his theory Kohlberg argued that moral development could be summarised in six stages within three different levels. He suggested that moral progress is a continuous process that happens throughout our life. Kohlberg based his theory upon research and interviews with groups of young children. He went around presenting them with a series of stories to find out how and why they think that way.
Level 1. Preconventional Morality
You have to obeying the rules it is important, because it is a means to avoid punishment.
Level 2. Conventional Morality
There is an emphasis on conformity, being “nice,” and consideration of how our choices influence relationships. The focus is on maintaining law and order by following the rules, doing one’s duty and respecting authority.
Level 3. Postconventional Morality
At this stage, people begin to account for the differing values, opinions and beliefs of other people. At this stage, people follow these internalised principles of justice, even if they conflict with laws and rules.
I don’t know if Lawrence Kohlberg was a Christian or not or he read the same passage in Hebrew but he seems to be saying what Paul is saying. That as humans being not only do we grow physically but we also grow morally which helps our spiritual growth. Paul is saying in his letter that you are still on level 1 you should have been at least level 3 or maybe level 2. Do you think this also applies to us in here? Are we teachers? Are we spiritually mature? Can we tell what is good and bad or what is right and wrong or truth or false?
You know that God loves us so much right? And he gave us the power to think for ourselves, He likes people who think for them self? Have you heard the saying? “God has said it, I will do it and that is all to it”. Meaning that I don’t want to think I do not want to grow all I want is a set of list of instructions and that is all I am going to do. Do you think God likes that? That were denying using the gift that God has given us.
For those who are parents what would you want your children to be when they grow up? Would you want them to call you up in in the middle of the night or something to ask mum! Dad! I am about to go to bed now, should I brush my teeth? Or do you want them to come to a realisation that brushing their teeth is good for them. And it does not really matter when you brush your teeth as long as you brush them at least once a day. So do you not think that God also wants us to read and reason with him and amongst our self as we get to know each other better?
What about this you are in a relationship with a friend and every time you are the one who tells the other one what to do? And the other person does not ask a question or think about it they just do it. I know some of us would like that kind of relationship. But is that relationship healthy? Wouldn’t you at least expect some kind of response or input? Do you think that God also expects us to do the same in our relationship with Him?
In the book of Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. See the lord is inviting us to talk to Him to reason with Him. Not like what other people do they go around killing other people of the different belief or hurt others and then claim that God told them to do so. One wonders what kind of God would do that?
In the Bible we read of people who reasoned with God. Abraham said in Genesis 18:25 be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Also Moses in Exodus 14:15 Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, 16 Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness. 17 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, 18 The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. 19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. 20 And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word. And these were called God’s friends. Don’t we also want to be God’s friends?
In the Bible there are some passages that requires us to reason. The more we read and grow in the Lords word the clearer it becomes. For example in Ecclesiastes 8:15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun. Would it be wise of us to conclude that since that is how hard life is, so we should all just eat and drink and get drunk? Or would it mean that when we do have time to be happy let us be happy because when we are working hard or when life gets tough it is those happier times that get us through?
Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist and philosopher. He is well known for his studies with children most notably the theory of cognitive development. His theory of cognitive development suggests that children move through four different stages of mental development. His theory focuses not only on understanding how children acquire knowledge, but also on understanding the nature of intelligence.
So how does it work?
The sensorimotor stage “In this stage is from 0-2 years old, infants became aware of the world by matching experiences. Infants have only senses: vision, hearing, and motor skills, such as grasping, sucking, and stepping.
Preoperational stage this starts when the child begins to learn to speak at age 2 and lasts up until the age of 7. For example if you put the same amount of water in a tall skinny and or wide glass they would think that there is more in the tall glass.
Concrete operational stage, this is from 7-11 years old where children begin to think logically and begins to understand the concept of conservation; the amount of water in a short, wide cup is equal to that in a tall, skinny glass. Teens begin to think more about moral, philosophical, ethical, social, and political issues that require theoretical and abstract reasoning.
Formal operational stage is the final stage it ranges from adolescence into adulthood. At this point, the person is capable of hypothetical and reasonable reasoning. During this time, people develop the ability to think about intellectually.
Matthew 16:8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. He wanted His disciples to understand what he was teaching them. Once you have understood something it not easy for you to forget, it is not hard for you to teach others it is not hard for you to live by it is easy for you to increase in your understanding. Most of Christ parables started with a question what do you think? Why do you think this was?
Also In Mathew 18:8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. Does this verse actually mean that we should physically cut off our hands, eyes and ears? Or does it mean that in our lives there things that we find helpful or meaningful. What if you had a job that paid you a lot of money? But this job conflicts with maybe the Sabbath or moral values and ethics. Then you should be willing to let that go, although it will be very painful and will cost you a lot. It will be as if you have lost your hand, eye or ears. Because when were saved we will be like angels and we will have un-incorruptible bodies. So it doesn’t matter what we loose now because we will get 100 times more that what we have lost.
Also Jesus came to heal people who did not have full use of their arms or eyes or feet. So imagine if some needs your help what would tell them sorry I can only help you with one arm because I cut of my other arm because I want to go to heaven? Or Jesus coming to you to heal you and you say sorry please do not heal me. I cut off my ear because I want to go to heaven. Doesn’t it sound stupid to you probably because it is?
So it is important to reason and think through as Christians when we read a passage in the Bible think. What did it mean to the people? What does it mean now? Most importantly what is this passage telling me?
John also tells us, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” I John 4:1. God expects us to not blindly accept and believe everything that comes along, but that we should “test” the spirits of men to see whether they are of God or of the world. But the big question is how do you test them especially when you’re spiritually immature? You see it is by practising and using them then can we become mature then can we become teachers.
You see, Jesus expects us to be able to look at what is going on around us and make a sound and reasonable judgment as to whether it is of God or not. He expects that we will be able to tell the difference between truth and error. But how will we be able to judge rightly? In Proverbs 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. But in Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. So how can we know if someone is a fool? By judging, but I thought the Bible says do not judge. Sometimes it is not clear and evident and many times it will not be so easy to distinguish between truth and error, but not because we cannot know and understand truth!
Oftentimes, it is our own lack of desire to know the truth that stands in the way of understanding spiritual truths. Sometimes we get mentally lazy and do not study to comprehend or for the purpose of personal application. It is then that we place ourselves in grave danger of being led astray, also preventing our growth and thus maturity. It should not be so, for God expects us to think, to reason, and to understand.
Throughout Scripture we find that reason, wisdom, and logic are lifted up as good traits. For example, Proverbs 3:13 says we are blessed when we find knowledge and understanding. Paul commends the church at Berea because they searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true Acts 17:11. In many places throughout the book of Acts the apostle Paul was said to “reason” with the lost, attempting to prove to them the truth of his words. James 1:5 even tells us to ask God for wisdom, which He gives “generously to all without finding fault.”
To state the point simply, God created humans with the ability to think and reason, and God expects us to use the gift He has given us. Remember that at its core the goal of reason and growth is to find truth, and Jesus made the bold claim that He is truth John 14:6, so reasoning should lead us to Jesus every time.
Reasoning things through helps us to come to informed faith and not just blind faith. I know there are some immature Christians who have just joined faith I am not talking about them. I would encourage them to strive and start eating solid food. I am talking about the Christians who refuse to grow up. They rob themselves of the spiritual benefits that comes with maturity. They also rob other Christians because we should all be teachers in order to share, edify, encourage, council and educate with one another to those in and out side the church. In Mathew 28 Jesus invites all to teach. But if we do not grow spiritually, mentally and physically what are we going to teach? Because these days they’re many that also teach other oracles than that which are not of God. If you don’t reason thing through and grow as a Christian how will you know. At the end of the day no one can grow enough for we will always grow in our spiritual and mental capacity even when Jesus comes.
2 Peter 3:17 Ye therefore, beloved, knowing [these things] beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own steadfastness 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] the glory both now and forever. Amen