As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby. If so be y have tasted that the Lord is gracious – 1st Peter 2:3-3.
Growing up is a process, no one is born fully grown. Everyone comes into the world as an infant and progresses through different developmental stages until he or she reaches adulthood.
The same is true when one becomes born again, it doesn’t matter how old you are physically, when you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are a spiritual babe in Christ, and you must learn to grow in the things of God. No one should stay a spiritual babe, if so, just like in the natural, when one continues to stay a babe, there is a dysfunction.
There are three stages of spiritual development that correspond to physical development. They are babyhood, childhood, and manhood. Even though a person can be a born-again Christian for many years they can still be either in babyhood or childhood stages of development in certain areas of their life.
Newborn babies require a lot of work, they don’t do much except eat and sleep. You have to do everything for them; dress them, feed them, change their diapers, bathe them. They can’t eat solid food, they can only digest their mother’s milk or baby formula. In the same way, you can’t expect young Christians to do for themselves. We need to follow up with them after they first come to the church and encourage them to return to the church or stay connected to another good ministry. This is babyhood, they don’t know much about God or the Bible, so we have to spend time teaching and counseling them. Many of them don’t have confidence in their prayers, so they will ask anyone they see to pray about the same thing over and over again. There comes a time that all babies have to be weaned from their mother’s milk, if not they will never grow into the childhood stage.
Mature Christians should encourage the baby Christian to grow and mature, don’t continue to baby them because you will be hindering their spiritual growth. Encourage them to have faith in their prayers, encourage them to fast, encourage them to read and study their Bible. Christians should group up enough so that they don’t always need someone to visit them, pump them up, pray for them, they should grow so they can help the next baby Christian or someone else that is in need of spiritual counseling.
In the childhood stage of Christianity, they have not learned the value of silence, they talk too much. People who talk all the time are usually guilty of at least three sins: Evil speaking, vain speaking, and foolish speaking. Evil speaking is talking about and discussing the faults of people who are not present. Vain speaking is talking about oneself all the time, what he or she has done. Where they have been and what they are about to do. Foolish speaking is constantly jesting and joking about things that are unprofitable. The Bible says that jesting and joking are not “convenient” (Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient; but rather giving thanks – Ephesians 5:4).
In the manhood state of Christianity, the characteristic of spiritual maturity or manhood is esteeming earthly things lightly, in other words, placing God first in every area of their lives. Moses is an example of someone who esteemed earthly things lightly (By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season – Hebrews 11:24-25). Moses could have had all the riches of Egypt, instead, he chose to suffer affliction with the people of God.
Another characteristic of a mature Christian is that he or she is God conscious and seeks after the kingdom of God. Baby Christians are self-conscious and materialistic-minded. Always keep in mind that we can be mature in one area, but a baby in another area. None of has “arrived”, there is always room for spiritual growth. How do we grow spiritually? Just as a child grows by what they eat, you grow spiritually by what you are eating spiritually. If you never look at Christian programs, spiritual books, reading and studying the Word of God, attending church you will continue to be a baby Christian, and you will not survive.
Every Christian has received the same New Birth, the same measure of faith, the same measure of grace, and the same love of God. It’s up to each of us to develop what we have been given. Submit to the Word of God so that you will live according to the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance). As we mature, we can be a blessing to the body of Christ.