Reading: 1 Corinthians 3
Summary: Paul’s address to the problem of divisions in the Corinthian church continues. A contributing factor to the issue is the spiritual immaturity of these Christians as evidenced by their fleshly (as opposed to spiritual) attitudes exhibited in jealousy and strife. Further, their understanding of the role of preachers like himself and Apollos also needs clarifying. Their work is in conjunction, not competition, with each other.
Do you know a baby when you see one? Sure you do. It’s easy. There are some things that are characteristic about babies that are not difficult to spot. No one would consider it “judgmental” to call a baby a baby, would they? Not at all.
This is also true spiritually. There are spiritual babies. They are such because they demonstrate the qualities of spiritual infancy. This has nothing to do with time. That is, the length of time one has been a Christian does not guarantee spiritual maturity (see Hebrews 5:12).
Paul said he had to speak to the Christians at Corinth as “infants in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1). The apostle wasn’t being judgmental or demeaning. It was just a fact; a fact based on evidence. Strife and jealousy still characterized their relationships with each other. That is evidence of lives lived by the flesh, not by the Spirit (1 Cor. 3:3-4).
What is more, Paul said he could not feed them with solid food (he’s speaking of teaching them, not literally feeding them) but rather he had to give them “milk” (1 Cor. 3:1-2; see also Heb. 5:11-14).
There’s nothing wrong with being a baby if one is still in the time of appropriate infancy. Growth and maturity are supposed to happen. When one remains a baby when they ought to be mature, it’s a real problem. The challenge is that most of our physical growth happens without conscious thought or effort. Not so spiritually. It demands our attention as well as our intention.
Don’t be a baby!