Why Are You Still Drinking Milk?
20 years ago this week, I made the most important decision I’ve ever made and will ever make in my entire life.
I was a hostile, rude 15-year-old punk kid with freshly dyed maroon hair, a bad attitude, and a hairy upper lip. (That last fact has nothing to do with the condition of my heart; it’s just the truth. I was a super hairy kid.)
I grew up in San Antonio, TX and moved about half an hour north to New Braunfels the summer before I started 9th grade. We moved to a town with a bunch of kids from the country who had been in school together their whole lives and had no interest in making new friends.
I don’t blame them. I wasn’t the friendliest person.
Luckily I met *my person* (pictured on the far right) on the first day of high school. Anie had just moved from Chicago and I’d just moved from San Antonio. While San Antonio may not have been as big of a city as Chicago, we were still considered the “city girls” and we immediately hit it off.
20 years later, I still consider her a best friend and the reason I met Jesus.
She revealed Heavenly secrets to me and helped me understand who this Jesus guy really was, and who He wanted to be in my life.
See friends, I thought I was a Christian because I was an American.
I know, I know. But I know I’m not alone here.
There are so many people who consider themselves to belong to a certain religion because of their heritage, because of their grandma, because of their upbringing.
But things are different with Jesus.
When you meet Him, the truth is revealed and you’re confronted with a decision: If what they say about Jesus is true, I owe Him everything. I owe Him my life.
I wish I could say I am 20 years old in “heaven years” by now, but the truth is that I wasted so many years drinking milk when I should’ve moved on to solid foods so long ago.
One of the most haunting passages of scripture is found in Hebrews 5:11-6:12. The author wants to go so much deeper and get into richer topics, but his audience (Christians converted from Judaism) were still infants in their faith, drinking milk like babies instead of moving on to solid foods - profound biblical truths.
The author admonishes them, saying they should be the ones teaching these deeper, richer, profound truths by now, but instead, they’re still drinking breast milk, stuck in spiritual infancy.
I don’t know about you, but I have definitely been stuck in that place before, too.
A good chunk of my walk with Jesus looked a little like this:
Infancy vs. maturity
Thank goodness the Holy Spirit found me. In my brokenness. In my “dullness of hearing,” as the Word calls it. In my laziness and passivity of how I was approaching scripture, my daily time with Jesus, and spiritual truths.
He woke me up from years of complacency. Not with harsh judgement, but with a quiet whisper.
He reminded me that milk isn’t bad. It’s what infants need. It’s where they get their nutrients. But they don’t stay there long. They’re always progressing, always moving on to new foods to support the development of their muscles and their growing body.
Milk isn’t bad, but I wasted so many years hoping milk would somehow sustain my adult faith muscles. I lived in a state of perpetual infancy, lacking the desire or hunger to grow deeper in my faith. Maybe you’ve been there before? Stuck at the corner of growth is just too hard and I’m perfectly fine right where I am?
But, there’s so much more waiting for us past that corner! The Father’s heart for us is life and then growth and maturity.
Picture someone in your mind who is 90 years old, stuck in a 2-year-old’s body. Are you seeing this? They’ve lived so much life, but it was through the eyes of a selfish toddler. They missed out on deep, meaningful relationships, experiences, and everything in between. They’re still held and fed in their parents’ arms, never learning how to do life on their own. They missed out on all the things.
How do I know if I’m still living in spiritual infancy?
Just like an infant, “Jesus babies”:
Are completely absorbed with themselves. They only care about what they need right here, right now.
They’re spiritually and emotionally irregular. They choose when and how they will trust Jesus. They trust Him on the good days, but when real storms hit, they aren’t so sure. They’re thoughtful and kindhearted when it’s convenient, but hostile and easily angered when they don’t get their way.
They pride themselves on how they’ve hurt or wronged others. They brag about how they brought justice by their own power.
They behave one way in one setting, then a completely different way in another setting. Their beliefs, attitude, and actions change depending on who’s around.
They keep a record of wrongs. They’re professional grudge-holders. They do not easily forgive, or apologize, for that matter.
They only serve others if it will benefit them in some way.
They’re jealous and envious of the blessings in other people’s lives.
Moving from infancy --> Maturity
So, how do we grow up? How do we move from infancy to maturity?
t h e w o r d + t h e s p i r i t
The Word is the milk and the solid food we need to develop muscles that are healthy, strong, and ready for more. As the Word penetrates our heart, the Holy Spirit plays His role of developing new desires and new habits in our life. Our former identity disappears and our new identity emerges.
The milk must come first.
When I submitted my life to Jesus 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to immediately start eating solid foods, or the deeper truths of the Word. It takes time to digest the Word, drink the milk, and develop healthy muscles before a strong foundation is laid for richer flavors.
Turning milk into solid foods is less about how long it takes and more about HOW you drink the milk. How often you drink it, how you savor it, how you allow it to transform your actions and your mind.
If you’ve ever seen a baby drinking milk, you know that when they are in the process of drinking, they are completely focused. Content and happy. They may have been in the middle of a melt down a few seconds before, but once the milk hits their lips, they are focused and fully satisfied.
This is how we ought to read the Word!
We long for it, then we’re completely focused, engaged, and satisfied once we are filled.
And if we are filled and nourished, there will be an obvious heart change. What we want to watch on Netflix, how we fight with our husband, how we serve others. The fruits of our time in the Word should be evident.
The Word says that the practice of drinking milk is what makes us a discerning person, and little by little, we’re able to move on to solid foods.
Practicing anything takes time and commitment.
I’m 13 months into teaching myself how to play the guitar. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to quit. I can get so frustrated with finger positioning, my lack of skill when it comes to strumming, or keeping one rhythm with my guitar and a separate one vocally.
I’ve assumed my husband and everyone else is just better than me, that I’ll never be able to play like I really want to, blah, blah, blah.
Practice is hard and it can be uncomfortable. But then, there’s breakthrough! Like when I look up a song and it’s full of chords I already know how to play and I play through it seamlessly the first time I play it! Or, when I’ve practiced one line for half an hour and it finally clicks.
The practice is worth it. It pays off. It may not be right away, but breakthrough is coming!
Discerning God’s will becomes second nature as
t h e w o r d + t h e s p i r i t
shape our spiritual muscles and heighten our spiritual senses. These senses are shaped by habitually soaking in the Word of God.
“Discernment is what you do naturally when the milk of God's promises is so savored and so satisfying that it gives you the mind of Christ.” - John Piper
The bottom line: If you aren’t reading the Word, you’re a starving infant. If you are only reading it on Sunday mornings when the preacher refers to a few Scriptures, you are still in an infant state (and at that rate, it would take decades to grow into spiritual adulthood.)
If you’re habitually soaking in the Word of God and allowing the Spirit to change your heart based on the truth you’re consuming, you’ll eventually be ready for deeper spiritual truths, chewing on solid foods, and growing in faith and obedience.
If spiritual maturity is something you’re struggling with right now, I’d love to chat with you! Comment below or send me an email so we can continue the conversation!
I’d also encourage you to meet with other Christians who are willing to push you in this area of your life. Ask them hard questions. Encourage one another and extend grace! Get in the Word everyday. The Word is the milk, but it’s also the solid food! Wrestle with hard concepts you’re reading about. Ask the Father for the wisdom to understand tricky passages of scripture. He will give you wisdom if you ask for it boldly, not doubting if you’ll receive it! (James 1:5) Listen to truth-filled sermons and podcasts that will support you in your development. Pray that the Holy Spirit will empower you to live out what you’re reading, even when it’s hard and uncomfortable. He promises that He will always be with us, even in the hard places.
What does scripture have to say about spiritual maturity?
1 Corinthians 3:1-4
“Brothers and sisters, when I was with you I found it impossible to speak to you as those who are spiritually mature people, for you are still dominated by the mind-set of the flesh. And because you are immature infants in Christ, I had to nurse you and feed you with “milk,” not with the solid food of more advanced teachings, because you weren’t ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready to be fed solid food, for you are living your lives dominated by the mind-set of the flesh. Ask yourselves: Is there jealousy among you? Do you compare yourselves with others? Do you quarrel like children and end up taking sides? If so, this proves that you are living your lives centered on yourselves dominated by the mind-set of the flesh, and behaving like unbelievers. For when you divide yourselves up in groups—a “Paul group” and an “Apollos group”— you’re acting like people without the Spirit’s influence.”
“We have much to say about this topic although it is difficult to explain, because you have become too dull and sluggish to understand. For you should already be professors instructing others by now; but instead, you need to be taught from the beginning the basics of God’s prophetic oracles! You’re like children still needing milk and not yet ready to digest solid food. For every spiritual infant who lives on milk is not yet pierced by the revelation of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, whose spiritual senses perceive heavenly matters. And they have been adequately trained by what they’ve experienced to emerge with understanding of the difference between what is truly excellent and what is evil and harmful.
Now is the time for us to progress beyond the basic message of Christ and advance into perfection. The foundation has already been laid for us to build upon: turning away from our dead works to embrace faith in God, teaching about different baptisms, impartation by the laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. So with God’s enablement we will move on to deeper truths.
It is impossible to restore an apostate. For once a person has come into God’s light, and tasted the gifts of the heavenly realm, and has received the Holy Spirit, and feasted on the good Word of God, and has entered into the power of the age that is breaking in, if he abandons his faith, there is no use even trying to lead him to repentance. By their sin of apostasy they re-crucify the Son of God, and have publicly repudiated him.
For men’s hearts are just like the soil that drinks up the showers which often fall upon it. Some soil will yield crops as God’s blessing upon the field. But if the field continues to produce only thorns and thistles a curse hangs over it and it will be burned.
Having said that, beloved, we are fully convinced that there are more beautiful and excellent things, which flow from your salvation. For God, the Faithful One, is not unfair.How can he forget the work you have done for him? He remembers the love you demonstrate as you continually serve his beloved ones for the glory of his name. But we long to see you passionately advance until the end and you find your hope fulfilled. So don’t allow your hearts to grow dull or lose your enthusiasm, but follow the example of those who fully received what God has promised because of their strong faith and patient endurance.
1 Peter 2:1-3
“So abandon every form of evil, deceit, hypocrisy, feelings of jealousy and slander. In the same way that nursing infants cry for milk, you must intensely crave the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word. For this “milk” will cause you to grow into maturity, fully nourished and strong for life — especially now that you have had a taste of the goodness of the Lord Jehovah and have experienced his kindness.”