Verse of the Day Devotion. Hebrews 5:14
“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” – Hebrews 5:14
Here, the writer of Hebrews wants to continue on the subject of Melchizedek and Christ, however, he does not see how, for it will be hard for him to explain due to their lack of understanding of his listeners. “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.” Hebrews 5:11. It is important to see that the difficulty he was having was not due necessarily to his inability to explain it, but in the audiences ability to receive it. The phrase ‘dull of hearing’ is used to refer to ‘mental dullness. He was finding difficulty because the audience had become sluggish in their learning the things of God.
Then he explains what he meant. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Hebrews 5:12. This and the following two verses contain imagery widely used in Greek literature, and especially in popular philosophy, for describing levels of education. Semantically it introduces a contrast between what the readers are and what they should be. Because they have been Christians long enough, they should by now be able to teach others. But in fact, they need to be taught. Teachers, as used here probably does not denote the office of teaching, as the word is sometimes used in the New Testament. The meaning here is that mature believers have the capacity to teach, even if they are not filling the office of teacher.
Then, moving on to the next verse, “For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.” Hebrews 5:13. Anyone who can understand only the basic elements of Christian doctrine lives on milk and is inexperienced or unacquainted with the teaching about righteousness. When referring to training in righteousness, this probably alludes to the ethical dimensions of Scripture, taking righteousness here not in the forensic sense of justification but in the ethical sense of matters of right and wrong.” There is a phrase I like to use. “Do the do’s, and don’t do the don’ts”. In other words, learn what the do’s are and do them, and what the don’ts are and don’t do these things.
Then we read in our focus verse. “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:14. And this is how we can distinguish between the do’s and the don’ts. We need to know, understand, and practice our Christian life. We must grow in our faith from a new Christian who can only have milk, to become a mature believer who continues to grow in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. And as we learn and live it, we need to help others attain this level of growth. What we know and are sure of, we need to help others understand and be sure of as well. That is our calling. And we must never stop studying and learning more of our life in Christ. If we stop studying and learning, we will not understand fully this life, and may fall back to milk again.
I want to encourage everyone who is reading this to spend time learning and teaching others what this Christian life is truly about. As Paul said to Timothy, “Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless, and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene.” 2 Timothy 2:14-17. Take time to read, study, and teach the truth of God’s word. It is the only way to do the work God has called us to do.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.