“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
Paul is pointing out two interesting facts:
- New believers must first be fed with milk just like a newborn baby is.
- Just as milk strengthens bones and is essential for health and growth, so is spiritual milk for maturity and growth.
There is no shame in being a baby Christian. However, it is important that growth occurs. This means moving from a diet of milk to meat.
Today, many believers have never moved on to the meat of the Word. They are still sipping milk, instead of chewing on meat that helps build spiritual strength.
One could write a book on this subject but too often preachers use these verses to shame people, instead of inspire them. Parents patiently introduce their children to new foods to awaken their taste buds and excite them about a new world of food available to them other than just milk. Likewise, believers must move with wisdom to help new believers who only drink milk to see and taste that God’s goodness goes beyond just salvation. It causes us to grow up in Him. We go from learning to walk to running our races. We learn to use our authority to resist the Devil, cast down vain imaginations, pray effectively, etc.
As babies grow they start being productive members of the family. Instead of just taking all the time, they start learning to give. I taught my sons how to cook; as they grew in this knowledge, many nights they prepared dinner for us. We weren’t always feeding them; now, they are feeding us. This is what true spiritual maturity is all about. It is learning to love as you were loved. True spiritual maturity is a believer walking in the love God has for them. New babes in Christ need lots of loving as natural babies do. But eventually, the love they receive and experience becomes the same love they give to others.
Love helps a believer leave the world of the “flesh” behind because love is spiritual and the flesh is selfish. Love is sacrificial and generous whereas the flesh isn’t. This is the point Paul is making about what true spiritual maturity is. He desires the Corinthians to grow up, but they were still acting and eating as babes. Any responsible parent knows when it is time for a change in diet. Therefore, Paul is trying to challenge the Corinthians that though they should have been eating meat, they were still only fed milk.
I know some believers who have been on a milk diet for over 30 years. Sadly, their diets reflect their lack of spiritual maturity as well.
There is nothing wrong with a glass of spiritual milk from time to time, but it is the meat of God’s Word that causes us to grow up in Him.
“Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).