In the previous chapter, Paul talks about those who are mature (6) and those who are spiritual. (15)
But at the beginning of this chapter, he makes clear that the Corinthians fit neither description. He said,
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? (1-4)
Very hard words. But what would Paul say about you if he were to look at you? More importantly, what would Jesus say about you?
Now let me be clear, if you are a young Christian, new to the faith, I’m not talking so much to you. Obviously, as a baby Christian you have much to grow, and that’s fine. But if a baby never grows up, there is something seriously wrong.
If my 5-year-old daughter were still drinking milk from a bottle there would be something wrong. That’s cute in the early years, but not at 5. If she were still crawling instead of walking, if she were still babbling instead of talking, those would be serious problems.
And yet so many Christians remain babies. They never really grow up. What do I mean?
In short, they remain worldly. For the Corinthians, they showed this in that they continued to have hearts full of jealousy, and were constantly quarreling with one another. They had hearts that were full of pride, comparing themselves to one another, and looking down on others. And it was tearing apart the church.
How many churches today split for the same reasons? How many Christians leave their churches for those very reasons? Those are marks of immaturity.
So if your heart is still full of these things, how do you start to mature? You need to get back to the basics, and it’s rooted back in the milk of the gospel. Namely, that God loves you. Not because of who you are, or what you have done, but because of who he is. And he loved you so much that he sent Jesus to die on the cross for your sins.
Why do we have hearts of pride? Why do we compare ourselves with each other? Why are we jealous of others and quarrel with others? Because these basic truths have not sunk into our hearts yet.
If we really know that God loves us that much, what others think of us won’t matter. There’s no need for jealousy or for comparisons with others because we know that God accepts us as we are.
More, we know that there’s no room for pride because we know that we have nothing to boast about. As Paul will say later, everything we have we received from God. And if we have merely received it (in contrast to working for it), where is the room for boasting? There is none.
How about you? Have these truths sunk into your heart?
Let us no longer be worldly. Let us no longer be immature. But let us soak ourselves into these truths. And as we do, we will grow and become the people God desires us to be.