I used to bowl a bit when I was younger. I was actually pretty good compared to others; consistently bowling north of 150 points per game. Most recently I had the opportunity to bowl again. I had no anticipation of bowling anywhere near 150, but to my surprise I was lucky to bowl above 50! My experience bowling illustrates the situation for many followers of Jesus. We are evaluating our current spiritual maturity based on past performance.
One of the greatest myths in my spiritual growth is: because I had a certain level in the past, I am still at that place today. One of the best ways to tell that you have fallen into spiritual stagnation is when you do not have any “fresh bread.” I refer to fresh bread as the insights gained from time reading my Bible. If you find yourself replaying the re-runs of insights gained months or even years ago you have more than likely let your spiritual life go stale.
I recently was reminded of the Biblical process of spiritual development of a follower of Jesus from a passage in Isaiah. ““To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” (Isaiah 28:9–10)
The context of the message is God’s challenge to the Northern Tribes, Israel to come to grips with how far they have drifted from Him. We should not be surprised as to how far and how fast we drift from our Creator when we give our focus to other things in life. The neglect for God’s people was significant. The problem was they became offended at God’s messenger for revealing God’s message. One commentator writes, “They were angry that Isaiah was treating them as if they were young children. They felt they were adults who could think for themselves; they had no need for someone to tell them what to do or think. So they mimicked Isaiah as if he were speaking “baby talk” to them (v. 10).” (Bible Knowledge Commentary)
They responded the way that we might respond when we become stale in our spiritual faith. Arguing that we are not little kids in the faith but that is how far we have drifted. The assessment is probably more accurate that we want to acknowledge. It is easier to live in denial then to embrace reality and take steps to get back on track.
The irony of their response is that is provides the solution to their current spiritual dilemma. Spiritual development is not a silver bullet event but a building process over time. True spiritual growth is realized from the daily investment in the Bible of “precept upon precept and line upon line, her a little there a little.” Genuine spiritual maturity is a result of consistency in the practice of spiritual disciplines.
Let me encourage you to do an honest investment of your spiritual state today. If your life is absent of fresh bread each week, let me encourage you to take action. We will be moving into 2023, the New Year. Now would be a great time to start a Bible reading plan, join a small group or even determine to be consistent in attending a weekend service. The truth about spiritual growth is that it is a process!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson