Monday, December 11, 2017

Did your parents ever chastise you by saying, with a tone, “Why don’t you grow up?” or “Why don’t you act your age?”?  Sometimes you were just being a kid and you weren’t sure what your parents wanted you to do.  You may have understood that they were giving you words of wisdom, you just didn’t have the wisdom to know what it was!  Even having a razor strap brushing your derriere didn’t elevate your IQ.

I think my parents were teaching me how to correct my children once I grew up, married, and had some.  It was the biblical way!  Did your parents ever say, prior to using the belt, “This is going to hurt me more than it does you”?  I always thought, as the licks were in progress, “How is this hurting you, since I’m the one feeling the licks?”  Did your correcting parents ever say, “I’m doing this because I love you!”?  With each red mark from the switch, I was thanking God that my mom or grandmother didn’t hate me”!  There certainly wasn’t much grace back then.  Like a Saturday night bath, a whipping was something you were going to get whether you thought you needed it or not!  My excuses weren’t accepted.  My reasoning didn’t make the grade.  If anyone needed grace, it was me.  I needed it back then and I still do today!  Don’t you?

Peter states, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby(1 Peter 2:2 (KJV).  How long after birth before a child exchanges his diaper for a two-piece suit?  How long before he no longer needs a high chair?  Some believe once a person rises from the waters of baptism, he should score 100% on all facets of life.  Yet, no one does.  Diapers must be changed often.  Growth must happen.  However, overnight adulthood is unrealistic.  Thirty-four years after Acts 2, the Hebrew writer stated, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (Hebrews 5:12 (KJV).  After thirty-four years, some were still bottle fed!  No one has perfect knowledge and unless we are deceived, we recognize our knowledge of God’s word needs continual improvement.  Most improve at different rates.

No one in his right mind whips a child when he dirties his diaper.  No one threatens that child, with each smelly napkin, that if there is a next time, he will be disowned and left on someone’s front porch.  It takes time to mature or grow up.  Dirty diapers are exchanged for trouble at school, or low grades, or negligent behavior.  Most boys my generation, and several that followed, are familiar with the school paddle?  We also knew when we got home, the oak tree’s switches would become our teacher!  But, even though we did not understand our parent’s “love,” they did not leave us on someone’s front porch.

The Hebrew writer was correcting and encouraging God’s children.  They had their problems.  Some needed to leave babyhood and act adult like.  They needed to remember some things.  Mother used to tell me, “I think you would forget your head if it wasn’t screwed on.”  Yet, with all their problems God said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.(Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV).  God never searches for a front porch.

We are all in a growing process.  We all make mistakes.  One purpose of our gathering together is to help and encourage each other.  We often waste that time by focusing on practices no older than a few centuries, rather than doing what was commanded in the first one.  The devil is still alive and active.  He works to interrupt our thinking with deception.  He wants us to beat up someone, either yourself or others.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he spoke of the assemblies being used to edify or build each member up (1 Corinthians 14:5, 12, 26).  When he wrote the Ephesians about the purpose of different works, he told their purpose (Ephesians 4:11-12).  When writing to the assemblies of the Ephesians and Colossians, he stated, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord(Ephesians 5:19 (NKJV).  He told the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16 (NKJV).  Notice that Paul starts with “speaking to one another” and “teaching and admonishing one another” before ending with “to the Lord”!  If an assembly leaves off the beginning, it will never get “to the Lord.”

God works through us as we assemble to build one another up.  We’re just a bunch of sinners who are grateful for His love, grace, and forgiveness.  We come together, to share with one another what He has poured out on us!  May God strengthen us as we help one another to move forward in our growth!