Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly - mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. Indeed you are still not ready. You are still worldly. (1 Cor 3:1-3)
When Paul wrote these words he was addressing people who were proud of their spiritual status. After all, didn't they have prophets among them, weren't they active in the use of spiritual gifts, wasn't the Holy Spirit working powerfully among them?
But Paul points the finger at their spiritual character rather than their spiritual gifts and says, "you just don't get it, you're nothing more than babies and that's the way I have to treat you. You need to grow up before I can begin to teach you anything meaningful."
He describes them as worldly, literally "fleshly." Whereas they should be seeing the world from the spiritual dimension, informed by the voice of the Holy Spirit within them, they see only the evidence of their eyes. They have not grasped the difference between fact and truth.
Facts and Truth
The fact was that Lazarus was dead and rotting in the grave with no hope of another day of life. The truth was that it was always the intention of the Lord Jesus to raise him from the dead and to bring glory to God through the miracle (Jn 11-12).
Jesus said, "you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" (Jn 8:32). Facts bind us, the truth liberates us. Innumerable times during His earthly ministry the Lord said, "I tell you the truth." He is the only reliable source of truth. If we are to know the truth we need to be completely steeped in His word, in Scripture. This will enable us to recognise the difference between the promptings of the spirit and our own response to the world around us.
Look Who's Talking
Back in our original passage Paul uses a word to describe the Corinthians which is most illuminating in its original Greek form. That word "infants" literally means "non-speakers," in other words those who haven't learned how to talk yet. This was how Paul knew they were immature spiritually - by the way they talked. Their words came from thoughts dictated to by the world, by what they experienced through their flesh. They talked about facts as though facts were the only reality, consequently there was jealousy and quarrelling. Their spirit, on the other hand, was so undeveloped that it had no voice. It was not informing their thinking or their actions.
We all have a need for our spirits to grow. We all should be striving for spiritual maturity. The way to do this is to actively cultivate our spiritual lives and not just wait for God to bring about our growth. Bible reading, fellowship with more mature believers and spending time in the presence of the Lord Jesus in prayer and worship are key to this process. When we see our lives from a spiritual dimension we will be more able to cooperate with the Lord in His work to make us His bride. Make a fresh commitment today to do your part in the growing up process.