One of the things that Dr. Evans has been writing about (and we’ve been discussing over the last couple of weeks) is the fact that God wants to mature us through our trials.
The basic principle is that trials help us grow up and help us understand that sometimes, our crisis will be a short, momentary interruption. Sometimes these trials will be long-term. Still, God helps us achieve a new level of growth regardless of the length of the trial.
The section we’re talking about today is speeding our spiritual growth and it comes in the book of James. James 1:4 reminds us that God’s purpose for our trials is that we grow until we are “perfect and complete,” or fully mature.
So today we’re going to talk about the difference between physical and spiritual growth.
We all see this. Sometimes you meet people who have only been Christians for 5 or less years, but they’re more mature spiritually than others who have been saved for 30 years.
So the speed at which we grow is directly related to the speed at which we go in fully committing Our Lives to the Lord.
Dr. Evans gives a couple of practical examples. Two families will experience severe financial trials:
- The first family, by their own testimony, recognizes that they have not been good stewards of the resources God gave them, and the Holy Spirit convicts them of the need to transfer their trust from money to their Lord. They learn the lesson start giving to God first and trust Him to turn their situation around.
- The second family keeps saying, “I know I’m supposed to be giving to the Lord but I can’t afford to right now. I was going to start here and start there…” but…they never do it. Now we all understand that emergencies will happen to all of us, but Dr. Evans is talking about believers who have been doing this dance for years and still haven’t grown to the point that they can trust God completely.
Now this illustration can also work the other way. Many Christians say that even though they were doing quite well financially without honoring God, they pay a heavy price in terms of ill-health, ruined marriage, lost peace of mind or serious family problems. And in many cases when they persisted in their lack of faith in God, it resulted in their financial house crumbling down.
In Hebrews chapter 5 verses 13 and 14 there is a difference presented between milk and meat – the diet of babies and adults.
13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
We know that babies can’t take meat because their systems are not mature enough to digest it. The same principle is true in the spiritual realm.
In passages like this, the term milk is generally understood to represent the basic easier doctrines of the faith like sin and salvation. Meat, is the deeper or harder to understand parts of scripture. So while John 3:16 would be milk, talking about the high priesthood of Jesus in Hebrews 5 and 6 would be meat.
The difference between milk and meat goes deeper than a difference in the amount of Bible knowledge you have in your head. Milk, biblically understood, is elementary teaching about Christ, or understanding what the Bible says.
Meat then, is understanding and applying what the Bible says. When you understand what God is telling you in his word, and when you comprehend what it means and what it requires, that’s great; but when you start applying it to your life practically that’s when you start to flourish.
The other trap we fall into is that we want the meat to happen very quickly and we don’t have the patience to go through day by day, month by month and year by year in the practice that leads to being trained or becoming spiritually mature.
The process takes time. God wants us to emerge from our trials more mature than when we started. God is not going to rush the process he wants us to practice, so we will be fully-trained and ready to go.
The Holy Spirit’s job is to apply Divine truth to your life so you can make Godly decisions between good and bad, right and wrong. Maturity is the ability to make decisions with the truth not just recite the truth.
When there is no ability to make decisions, there is no maturity.
Dr. Evans is trying to remind us that when God sends us on a trial, it’s a practice session. He’s calling us to put into practice on Monday the truth that we said “amen” to on Sunday.
Just like a football team who works hard to execute its plays in practice so that in the real game they can execute properly, God wants us to practice righteousness until our senses are well-trained and we are mature… because the world, our own sinful flesh and the enemy are waiting to resist us.
We become spiritually mature when the information we take in, or the milk, is translated into our daily practice, or the meat. Why can God be trusted in our trials? Because trials help us develop spiritual maturity, which in turn glorifies God.
THANKS FOR LISTENING!
– Joe and Todd