January 13, 2016
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Paul sounds like the parent of an immature teenager who disgustedly tells the youth, “Grow up!” But the apostle is not disgusted with his Ephesian brothers. He is challenging them to grow into mature believers – to “…to grow up in all things into…Christ….” Here is the whole challenge from Ephesians 4:13 through 15:
…till we all come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son
of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of
Christ, that we should be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried
about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning
craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but speaking the truth in
love, may grow up in all things into Him, who is the head — Christ….
Too many Christians are Toddlers In Christ – and tend to remain stuck in that early developmental stage! I am thinking of two major characteristics of toddlers – and immature Christians!…
• “No!” This seems like the first word a toddler learns! And it is perhaps the first verbal manifestation of the sin nature of every mother’s child – rebellion against authority!
Peter – impulsive Peter – manifested this characteristic. It is especially seen in Acts 10:14. But we will look at the context to get the proper perspective. The Lord was preparing Peter to minister the gospel directly to the Gentiles for the first time – decidedly against what the Jewish Rabbis taught! (See Acts 10:28). As Peter was praying, Jesus showed him a vision:
…and an object like a great sheet…[was] descending to him and let down
to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild
beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him,
“Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have
never eaten anything common or unclean.” (Acts 10:11 through 14).
“Not so, Lord!” is like a toddler saying “No! ” to his mommy! But in this case Peter’s “Not so…” is even more bold, because he follows it by “…Lord!” If Jesus is Lord, then He is to be obeyed! We are not to argue with God and try to impose our own rebellious toddler will! But God is patient, kind and compassionate with us, His sons and daughters (see Psalm 103:13, 14). As we love our rebellious and immature toddlers, so God loves us and puts up with a lot of our insubordination!
• “Mine!” We have several young grandboys (and a great grandson) – one infant, one toddler, two four-year-olds, and three from seven to nine. And we often have them at Gramma and Grampa’s house to give our daughter and her husband respite from the hectic life of being parents to all those kids! Our formal living room has been turned into a playroom – very chaotic at times! The toy box overflows with cars, trucks, trains, and bunches of other entertaining gizmos! But when we have two or three of our grandboys over, we often hear screams or shouts, accompanied by the word, “Mine!”
Of course, we adult Christians have outgrown that! Right? …until it comes time for the offering, and we are called to open our wallets or purses and give God His tithe or more! It is then that we too often silently shout, “Mine!” According to Leviticus 27:30, “…the tithe…is the LORD’s.” And verse 32 of the same chapter defines the tithe as “…the tenth…shall be holy to the LORD.” Now, in the New Testament, God does not command believers to tithe. But conservative Christian thinking gives the argument, “If the tithe was commanded under the law, we – in the age of grace – should certainly give a tithe of our income, and more!” Besides, my dear wife and I have learned early on in our 47 years of marriage the truth of Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over….For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” You can never outgive God! As someone once said, “I shovel out, and God shovels in! But God uses the bigger shovel!”
But it is not just concerning money that we shout “Mine!” What about our time? What about our talents? What about our home, our hobbies, our cars, our………….! I think you get the picture! Paul gives us the summation of it all in I Corinthians 6:19 and 20:
…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is
in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you
were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your
spirit, which are God’s.
The price God paid for us is Jesus Christ, His own Son, dying on the cross to purchase our salvation! Act like He really did it! Act like He really bought you, and owns you! “…grow up in all things into Him, who is the head — Christ….” Don’t stay as Toddlers In Christ!