But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. 1 Corinthians 3:1-2
While I was in treatment, I felt I was being treated as a child. I could have my snacks only at snack time and when I missed it, I was cranky. When I couldn’t go outside unless it was designated outside time, I got even crankier. I was told when to go to bed, when to get up, and when to go to meals. I didn’t find this fair, but eventually, I had to realize that I was an addict who’d been acting as a spoiled child. I was simply reaping the consequences of my impulsive, impetuous behavior. I wasn’t being treated like a child as punishment. That’s just where I was, and it was how the grownups had to deal with me.
As children, most of us can remember wanting to be treated as an adult. I’m a big boy. Treat me like one. As teenagers, we didn’t ask for stricter rules. We wanted to make our own decisions. It is of course, completely inappropriate to treat a child as an adult though. A child simply isn’t capable of taking care of himself or making adult life decisions. So, we guide children, treating them as children.
This was Paul’s message to the Corinthian church in today’s passage. In it, he took a scolding tone, as he said that they were still spiritual children. Physically, they may have grown up, but that didn’t mean they’d grown spiritually. Spiritually, they were still infants, requiring care as infants. I imagine his words were hurtful, as the Corinthians probably didn’t see themselves as spiritually immature. The truth often hurts.
The lesson for me, is that there is a spiritual growth chart and I’m probably not as far along it as I think I am. I’ll not be made perfect in this life and so, growth is meant to be ongoing. Even Paul said that he had not yet obtained perfection, but that he daily pressed on, continually growing in Christ (Philippians 3:12).
We like to think we’re all grown up, that we’re big boys and girls. We all have stuff to work on though. We all need to grow. As long as we’re in these mortal bodies, we must keep pressing on, daily turning from the old, spoiled, immature, impetuous life, to pursue the new blessed life in Christ. There is a spiritual growth chart, and we’re probably not as far along as we think we are.