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Thursday, March 19, 2009

failure to thrive

We Need Strong Meat
I was reminded today of a child I once had in Day Care. The little girl’s mother had been too preoccupied with her own life at the time when the child should have been learning to eat solid food. It was more convenient to give the little girl a bottle than to take time to sit down and deal with the mess of poking food into the baby’s mouth and having it squirt back out and repeating the process until the baby got the hang of swallowing food from the spoon.

This little girl, at that crucial point in her development, had never been given solid food. At four years old she still didn’t want anything that could not be sucked through the holes in a sippy cup. She was thin and weak. She had no energy and was very lethargic. Her coloring was poor. And she looked ill.

After repeated examinations, doctors could find nothing wrong other than the fact that the child had never been given solid food and consequently didn’t like to eat it. Mom had given her chocolate milk, juices, various liquids (Carnation Instant Breakfast type foods) to stimulate her appetite in other directions. Serious measures and special schooling finally had to be put into effect to force her to take solid food because her health was being adversely affected by her refusal to eat anything with any texture or consistency.

Paul uses this same situation as an example of the Christian who wants to linger at the threshold of Salvation, never wanting to go on into a deeper walk with God. They merely want to be saved, to avoid hell. They don’t want to lay aside the bottle or the habits of life and the petty sins that keep them from growing. They prefer only the ‘milk’ because it is easier to keep returning to the cross for forgiveness with every slip into sin than it is to struggle against their flesh.

The meat of the word that Paul is speaking of requires us to work, not only to consume it but to stand against our little sins and bad habits. Milk is merely a matter of swallowing and it goes easily down our throats to nourish us. Like the little girl, we may find that way easy and it is ‘good.’ But it is only efficacious for the beginning of life. The meat that gives us strength requires that we work a little harder. We must study the word to find what God requires of us, then use it to stand against sin in our flesh. The easy way, drinking milk, is not the best way. Paul wants his followers to learn to stand against sin and defeat it in our fleshly bodies so that we can grow spiritually. Without the strong meat we are weak Christians, always defeated, always seeking forgiveness, never able to stand against Satan, never able to lift the shield of faith or effectively wield the sword of the spirit.

The little girl’s health and her very life depended upon her learning to eat meat and other solid food. So it is with us spiritually. The Christian who only wants milk, who wants to linger on the threshold of Salvation will soon find himself weakening and if measures aren’t taken to remedy the situation, he will die again in trespasses and sins. Let’s partake of the strong meat that requires we put effort into our Christian life and defeat the enemy. That is the spiritual food that enables us to grow in the Lord.
"For when for the 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 every one 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. " (Hebrews 5:12- 14)

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