Arrested Development

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby (1 Peter 2:2).”

Manpreet Singh is a 23-year-old who lives in Hisar, India, but he is not like others his of his age. It is reported that after his first birthday, Manpreet abruptly stopped growing and is as a toddler in size and appearance. (1) According to news reports, doctors in his home country believe he may have Laron Syndrome, which affects only 300 people globally. Although he is old enough to have graduated college it is likely that Singh will spend the rest of his days trapped in an infant’s body.

Sadly, in the church, Christians too often fail to continue to grow up in spiritual maturity. The term “child of God” is stretched for some. Anyone who’s been in the church for anytime learns that years of being a Christian is not always an accurate indicator of spiritual maturity. It was a problem in the church that frustrated the Apostles. The inspired writer of Hebrews had so many things he wanted to teach those Christians, but due to their stunted growth he could not. He wrote, “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 (Hebrews 5:12).”

On occasion, such as the healing of the demon possessed epileptic whom His disciples could not cast out because of their immature faith (Matthew 17:17, Mark 9:19, Luke 9:41), Jesus was exasperated with their lack of growing faith. Elsewhere, great multitudes followed Jesus after He miraculously fed the five thousand (John 6:11-12) but when these new followers caught up to Jesus He rebuked them because they were not seeking Him to be fed spiritually but merely looking for another meal ticket. He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled (John 6:26).” After delivering to them a solid sermon rather than an all-you-can eat buffet many quit following Him (John 6:66). Jesus did not plead with these faint-hearted unbelievers to come back but challenged even His disciples on their commitment (John 6:67).

Many issues were plaguing the Christians at Corinth, among them was sectarianism according to who had taught and baptized them (1 Corinthians 1:10-14). Paul scolds them for this childish fracturing of unity, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1).” And for the rest of the epistle Paul sets out to address each of their juvenile thoughts and acts. Paul was frustrated at their immaturity in the way they were abusing the Lord’s Supper and their inconsideration for their brethren (1 Corinthians 11:19-30). After he addressed their infantile practice of spiritual is when he delivered what many consider one of the most beautiful chapters in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. It is frequently recited at weddings, or known simply as the “love chapter.” But in context Paul is calling to an end to all of the immature spiritual behavior previously addressed and pleading with them to grow up. Agape love is the fruit of the mature Christian, “a more excellent way.” The mature loving Christian is patient, kind, and not envious or boastful (v.4). As rude behavior, selfishness, and quick tempers (v.5) are the marks of an untrained child not so for the mature and loving disciple. 1 Corinthians 13 is a clarion call for those Christians then, and we today, to grow up and leave behind those characteristics exhibited by those in the world who don’t know Christ.

If we examine ourselves in the mirror of the New Testament and the example of Jesus, we can all see those areas in which we too can grow up. When we put ourselves after the needs of others (Philippians 2:3) and have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5-8) we can have confidence we are growing up in Him.

“But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ (Ephesians 4:15).”


Billy Alexander is a member of the church of Christ in Jersey Village in Houston, TX. He and his wife Gwen both work at Hewlett-Packard where they met and have worked more than 25 years each. Billy enjoys teaching Bible several times each week at Jersey Village and Memorial church of Christ. Since 2008, his weekly article "Equipping the Saints" as run in the Jersey Village bulletin.