The Milk And the Meat

Oh LORD, my heart is not proud,
nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
Oh Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time on and forever.

–Psalm 131 (NASB)

When Jesus’ followers ask Him who would be greatest among them, he placed in their midst a little child and said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

We know that mothers were eager to have Jesus bless their infants. But for his object lesson, he selected a little child, not an infant. Like the psalmist’s soul, this was a weaned child, one whose love for his mother is based more on love and less on need.

Peter told his readers to desire “the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” But Paul lamented that “I have fed you milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.”

The writer of Hebrews had the same lament. “For when for a time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For everyone that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

Interesting that discernment of good and evil is developed through exercising of the senses. It is a growth process, a graduation. But what’s the milk? The writer of Hebrews continues: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not layuing again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands; and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”

Those are the fundamentals of the Christian faith: belief in Christ, repentance, faith in God, baptism, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. These are just the starting point, and we need not rehash them over and over. The laying on of hands is active involvement: If your laying on of hands and prayer fails to heal a loved one, then your hands are still needed there. Eternal judgment? If you can’t accept another definition, try this one: When you’re dead, you can’t edit your earthly life. There are no replays. It will forevermore be the life it actually was.

There is a maturing process associated with the Christian faith. You start with the milk, filled with the wonder of forgiveness and salvation. Milk is good, but God doesn’t want you to stop there. He wants you to grow to become a partner in His work on earth. He wants you weaned from milk and moving on to the meat of the Gospel. The meat, I believe, is the kind of hands on, love thy neighbor activity that Christ endorsed. It is partnership with God. It is to become the body of Christ on earth.

There’s nothing wrong with milk, and we all need milk to grow. But let’s remember that, scripturally speaking, we are expected to mature in the faith. Let us accept the milk and move on to the meat. Let’s get on with the business of doing the good works that God has prepared for us to do.

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