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
The last organized basketball I played was in sixth grade. I didn’t enjoy basketball practice, but still, I wanted to be good at playing. I remember hoping that I simply had a natural talent for shooting. I didn’t. I was terrible. So, I didn’t shoot much. Neither did I practice shooting much. Once though, I was fouled and sent to the free throw line, where I had to shoot. So, I launched the ball up, hitting the support structure about 10 feet above the rim. It was a little embarrassing. I think it was embarrassing for my father too, as when I got home, I was sent out to the driveway to practice free throws.
I have few things that I’m naturally good at doing. For the most part, if I want to get better at something, I must practice, working on it several times a week. When I discipline myself to do this, I get better. When I’m lazy and refuse to practice, I remain below average at that thing.
In today’s passage, the author of Hebrews said much the same. In it, he said that the spiritually mature have developed discernment – wisdom and good judgment – by practicing the distinction between good and evil. People don’t just naturally follow what’s right. Rather, they naturally follow their own appetite, right or wrong. To live rightly, takes practice.
Many of us as Christians though, are like my sixth-grade basketball self, hoping we’re just naturally good at the Christian life. We believe in God and we think that when the big life decisions come, that we’ll just inherently know and want to do what’s right. We don’t practice following God in our day-to-day decisions, but we hope that when we get to that big free throw line that we’ll just naturally nail it. We won’t. If we follow ourselves in the day-to-day decisions, we’ll likely continue to do so in the big life decisions.
What I do today is practice for tomorrow. If I get up every day and eat what I want, do what I want, think what I want, buy what I want, and say what I want, then I’m practicing and preparing for a life of following me. If, however, I get up and develop the practice of asking what God wants, then I’ll develop spiritual maturity and discernment. God what do you want me to do here? This is something I should be asking myself many times a day. If I’m not, then I’m probably preparing and practicing for a lifetime of spiritual failure.