Many years ago a class I attended for the purpose of promotion to a supervisory position, focused,on the subject of supervision in the work force. One of the first lessons they taught was "how to eat a steer." You cannot eat a whole steer at one time. It is first dressed out, packaged, and stored. Then small portions are eaten over a period of time. Eventually, you will consume the whole thing. For the supervisor and/or the subordinate, taking on certain kind or new responsibility might be like trying to eat a whole steer at one time. If both supervisor and subordinate are patient and take small manageable steps in their efforts, over time they will see their progress. What first might seem overwhelming with sure failure, will be replaced with confidence and an expectation of success.
In spiritual matters, this principle still holds true. A disciple of Christ is a learner and there is much to learn in both acquiring knowledge of God's word and the actual proving or practice of the same, resulting in a true knowledge of Christ. Jesus said, "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." (John 15:8 NASB). John also wrote, "And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, 'I have come to know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; . . ." (1 John 2:3-4 NASB). This great responsibility of learning might seem to be like trying to eat a whole steer at one time.
A newborn babe is not expected to crawl much less walk and even more less run. He is lovingly and patiently cared for and nurtured. The babe is expected to learn and grow physically and mentally over time. Even the babe in Christ has responsibility. He is expected to learn and grow spiritually over time. God said through Peter, ". . . like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation," (1 Peter 2:2 NASB).
If a parent of a child always provides aid and support beyond the child's needs this could lead to a child being over-protected or more appropriate, less confident in his abilities, not to mention he might become spoiled. As a child grows, more responsibility ought to be put on him to behave in a more responsible manner. When the child misbehaves, excuses are not to be accepted, for how then will the child be responsible? It is not time to make excuses for them or to lower expectations of where their abilities can take them. We may understand the child's weakness and immaturity, but this is where discipline should be exercised for the benefit of the child. Depending on the circumstances, discipline could be in the form of instruction, correction, punishment or the expression of mercy.
Treat children of God in similar manner wherever provided by the word of God. When members of the church misbehave, no one can make excuses for them just because they may be weak or young in the faith. However, there ought to be a kind but firm understanding of their condition. An attitude of lowering expectations of a member of the church by refusing to reprove, rebuke, or exhort, can potentially do more harm for the soul rather than gently, but firmly instructing him in the way he should go. Paul said, "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?" (1 Cor. 3:1-3 NASB). Paul did not give these babes in Christ any excuses or lower expectations for them because of their errors. In another passage Paul said, "To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some." (1 Cor. 9:22 NASB). This was not lowering expectations, but a simple expression of understanding of another's condition. Paul did not take on an air of haughtiness and look down on others; rather he was understanding of their situation, blended his heart with theirs, and gave them what they needed to guide them in the way they should go.
How they received the information was not Paul's problem, but theirs. Jesus said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!" (Matt. 23:37-39 NASB). Jesus said this to those who were unwilling to be receptive to the instruction of God. Because of their unwillingness, they were disobedient. I've heard a statement many times that goes something like this, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." We cannot force souls to obey God. We may be able to bring the word of God to them, or rather bring them to the word of God; however, we cannot force them to feast on the message. A child of God must on his own "long for the pure milk of the word." This implies that the child of God must long for the truth, for the truth is the word of God. Jesus said, "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth." (John 17:17 NASB). Let us remember what was mentioned in the second paragraph. The pursuit of truth is two-fold, (1) getting the word of God and (2) obedience to it. A longing and love for truth is essential for any soul to grow to maturity.
From the things discussed above, the subject of loving truth and longing for it, needs to be fostered in those young in the faith. For those old in the faith whose flames for truth have died down or gone out, rekindle the love for truth. Our attention to passion or ambition towards the disposition of loving truth should be seen as a priority for developing good moral character and pleasing our Father in heaven. Jesus said. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matt. 5:6 NASB)
To the child of God in whatever stage of growth you may be:
My son, if you will receive my sayings,
And treasure my commandments within you,
Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the LORD,
And discover the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:1-5. NASB