Yesterday was great fun! Gary and I visited seven three-week-old lab puppies—five chocolate and two yellow. At this young age they are awake and active (except for one lazy sleepyhead yellow) and trying to crawl over the edge of the plastic pool which is still their home. Of course, I interpreted their attempts at freedom as wanting to visit me since I was across the barrier.
Eventually, Mama Cocoa came inside from a yard break. As soon as she stepped into the pool, several pups attempted to grab some milk, but Cocoa wouldn’t have any of it. She quickly stepped out until mealtime. Her milk was simply comfort food because they had eaten recently. Soon the pups will begin eating on their own, depending less and less on mama as she weans them to become independent.
Similarly, as followers of Jesus, we must grow beyond dependence on the teaching of others, just as babies and puppies do. As the author of Hebrews scolds his readers, “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 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 5:12b-14, NIV).
I’m convinced that many problems within the church would end if we would each study–not simply read–God’s Word while also hearing pastors and other teachers. Growth to maturity requires us to ask God to open our eyes and our hearts to our blindness to the evil in us and among us. When our hearts are right and we actually listen, God uses the Scriptures to grow us in maturity and discernment, even able to teach others truth because we have seen it for ourselves.
I admit that listening is more comfortable than doing hard work myself. I find myself falling into listening/reading mode so easily. When I spend time in actual study, I discover once more its powerful effect on my ability to see myself as God does through both conviction and encouragement.
If you attend a Bible study or group study, how is God speaking to you? Mostly through your own hard study in the Word or teachers? Are you growing closer to God? Is your discernment between good and evil—as God defines them by his commands and his character—sharpening? Are you unconditionally loving others and serving them more?
If you’re a Christian leader, consider how you can move your people to further maturity and personal study of the Scriptures. Are the studies and curriculum you use making more fans of the teachers or students of the Word? Does the material focus on giving answers or asking questions?
Let’s quit depending on pre-digested milk and start feeding on the steak of God’s Word for ourselves.
You may be interested in our free BOW video with Dr. Natalie Eastman that encourages your personal study. Or you may want to study through one of our journaling studies which takes you to the Bible for answers instead of feeding them to you. We would love to hear from you if we can be of help.