By This Time
Concerning this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull in your [spiritual] hearing and sluggish [even slothful in achieving spiritual insight]. For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God's Word (Hebrews 5:11-12, AMP).
I remember reading this passage when I was still wearing my spiritual pampers and I wondered how I would ever be ready to teach anyone the Word? When I became a Christian at the age of 19, I was as green as they come. I didn’t know anything about the Bible and couldn’t imagine ever knowing the Lord or His Word well enough to actually teach it to others. However, it didn’t take long for me to learn that God expected me to grow up. He envisioned the time when I would be weaned from the spiritual milk bottle, and ready to get busy teaching others. Did I feel qualified “by the time” I began to share Christ or lead Bible studies? Absolutely not…but I knew that the Lord was serious about the “by this time” concept!
So, how about you?
That phrase “by this time” is an interesting one. It gives us the idea that God is patient and merciful and allows us plenty of time to grow—up to a point! He gives us time to learn His Word, gain some experience, recognize our calling, discern our gifts, find our place and get it; but, a time comes when it's like the Lord is saying, “Alright already! Get to your getting!”
The idea is that “by this time” we should not be dull in our spiritual hearing or slothful in spiritual things; rather, we should be using some spiritual initiative in obtaining the spiritual insight we need. We should be established and grounded in things and able to pass them on to others.
So how about you? What should you be established in “by this time”?
The Basics: You should know the basics of the Word and be able to recall multiple parts of it, so you can teach others! Your mind should be renewed to its truth more than to the latest headline, sports score or tid-bit of gossip from work. If you don’t know the Word—get a plan for saturating your mind and heart with the Word of God. Listen to good teaching tapes. Get the Bible on CD or put it on your iPod. Load your heart with the Word and then share with others what God teaches you.
Your Gifts: You should know your God-given gifts. You should not be guessing or pretending. What are your motivational gifts? Spiritual gifts? You should employ those gifts and trust God for His grace. If you are faithful with a little, He will give you more. If you are not sure how God has gifted you—ask someone who knows you, has observed you in action and who will be honest. Then, have ears to hear. Be confident in the way God has wired and gifted you and use those gifts to teach others in whatever way seems good.
His Calling: You should know what you are called to—generally and specifically. Generally—we are all called to witness for Christ and to teach others the things we have learned. Specifically—we should seek the Lord for our unique purpose. God has a customized plan and purpose for each person. This should not be something which we live out hit-or-miss. We can spend our whole life missing our specific call, while trying to do something we were never called to do. Don’t piggyback on someone else’s call, find your own. Don’t shrink back from your call, be bold and step into it! Get serious about seeking the Lord to find out what God Almighty has called you to do, and then do it! (Note: Keep in mind that it’s very possible that at first God’s call in your life will sound like this, “Be faithful. Be a witness. Serve My Church. Details to come.” As you get busy doing what you know to do, God will make His specific calling in your life clear.)
These are basic things, I know. But, clearly the Lord is exhorting, challenging, encouraging, correcting and rebuking us that “by this time”, we must know and do these things. Today, be encouraged to seek the Lord, get serious, plant your face in the carpet and pray, cry out from your depths, pursue God, crave His will, ask for His wisdom and don’t settle for anything less.
Say It: “Father, forgive me for still drinking from a bottle and wearing my spiritual pampers. I have been dull, passive, coasting and sluggish. ‘By this time’, I should be much more established, mature, secure and equipped to do Your will. Today, I choose to wake up and get busy. I ask You to help me sharpen my spiritual self. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”