Back to the Basics

Hebrews 5:12 is a verse that has always had a great impact on my spirituality. The words have always resonated with me because I can clearly picture faces of embarrassment upon those first century Christians who must have received and read this letter for the first time. At least, that’s how I would have felt. I can also feel their heartache as one of God’s inspired writers has just exposed to the world their failure of personal responsibility to grow and mature in the Christian faith. I certainly would not want that kind of attention directed toward me! Oh, how each word must have cut them deeply! Listen closely: “… you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” That is a direct reprimand aimed squarely at some members of the Lord’s church.

That is why this verse has always compelled me to read the Scriptures more, to study more, to explore and investigate the many facets and aspects of God’s Word more profoundly so that I may never be accused of falling short of what God expects of me. Now, I realize it is a process and that every individual grows at a different pace, but these brethren seem to have become rather complacent and unproductive in their spiritual growth. Thus, the writer felt warranted in reprimanding them. We should all take note, because even Jesus had similar words to the churches in Asia, “You have left your first love … repent and do the first works,” (Rev. 2:4-5). “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot,” (Rev. 3:15). We are expected to always be learning and growing in our spirituality. It is part of “remaining faithful until death” (Rev. 2:10).

Hebrews 5:12 was not written only for those Christians of the first century. Through God’s wisdom, there is a direct correlation to Christians today and many applications that we can draw from this passage. Take the current state of affairs, for example. People are feeling anxiety, uncertainty and turmoil with all that’s happening in this country. The upcoming election, racial tensions, pandemic fears, and government overreach are all weighing on people’s minds, causing heated discussions and tempers to flare. Currently, many people are not as occupied with their jobs and normal routines, so there’s an abundance of idleness. The Bible warns that being idle can lead to all kinds of problems (Proverbs 14:23, 19:15; Matthew 12:36; 1 Timothy 1:6, 5:13; 2 Timothy 2:16). So, what is the solution for a Christian living in such times? Go back to basics! Yes, basics. Even the most experienced teacher sometimes needs to return to the fundamentals of the faith, especially in times like these.

The “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) does not come to us overnight. It must be developed and nurtured through the study of Scripture. When turmoil, strife, and tribulations arise, a Christian just needs to go back to the basics, to the “milk of the word.” If you are a new Christian, it will give you armor needed to withstand the attacks of Satan (Ephesians 6:10-20). If you have been a Christian a long time, it will strengthen the armor you already have. In any case, it will build your resilience! I think that’s the point of James chapter one when he says we should “count it all joy when you fall into various trials,” because it’s a time for spiritual growth. If we lean on God and trust in Him, He will provide and we will certainly be stronger when we come out of whatever we are experiencing.

So, the lesson is simply this, let’s not allow worldly things to distract us from our spiritual growth. Let’s not allow ourselves to wind up in a position of needing to be reprimanded for having neglected the first principles of the oracles of God. Let us instead, have our “senses exercised to discern both good and evil,” (Hebrews 5:14).