Journal Heb 5 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)

Scripture: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.  You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.


But solid food is for the mature — for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”  Heb 5:12-14


Observation:  I think this section is easy to apply to other people, not so much to myself—mostly because I think more of myself than I ought. (Ro 12:3)


Analysis:  The whole armor of God includes cultivating situational awareness—training for discernment.


I think that the point of this passage is not who is mature or immature, who is still existing on milk (easy to take, easy to digest, not much effort involved) or solid food, but the two points of being 1) Skilled, and 2) Practiced (or practicing).


Distinguishing good from evil in this context is not the outward characteristics of the world.  Murder, theft, and lying are pretty easy to define as “evil”, offensive to what is identified as “moral behavior.”  But even those are not categorically “evil”—Jesus died for these practices so that the practitioners could be forgiven from these evil ways.  (Yeah, I know that I have just talked out of both sides of my mouth, but bear with me.)


To even get close to distinguishing good from evil, I have to know what constitutes evil; what is the cornerstone, what is the keystone of evil?  From the scriptures I think it is clear: the keystone of evil is the attitude that I do not need God; that somehow, in some way, I have independence from or of God—even for a moment.


When I put that filter on and practice using it, then I start to see and discern biblically.  First practice field?  The mirror.  Because I don’t particularly like looking at myself (“Examine yourself: See if you are in the faith.” 2 Cor 13:5), evilly, I can start looking at others and begin the “I am better than you” Pharisaical approach to Christianity.


Not to be misunderstood: Being aware of and evaluating others is part of the tasking Jesus gives his own.  But not for condemnation purposes. Having nothing new under the sun, this kind of discernment belongs in the category of merciful practice (grace) towards others.  The only fierceness belongs to us and the face in the mirror (fierce personal transparency, or confession of sin).


Knowing the Gospel in an ever-deepening manner, in every nook and cranny of life is the consumption of solid food to be pursued.  Knowing the Gospel in Joy; knowing the Gospel from the mountain top to the valley below; the cry of the lonely and forgotten; the accolades of accomplishments—all needs the lens of the Gospel.


Pursue God, avoid living on milk, gain wisdom in discernment.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who practice it have a good understanding (discernment or grasp on things).  His praise endures forever!” Ps 111:10


Prayer:  Father, help me remember these words, especially looking at others with mercy.  I don’t want to preach with even the hint that I am “helping or saving” someone.  Do all need you?  Yes.  Can I draw them to you?  No, but I can be an instrument of your grace.  I just don’t need to attach any self-importance to that.  Only You can draw men to yourself (takes the starch out of that “free will” thinking).


I wonder if, before the Throne, I get to ask this question (although I will bet the answer will already be self-evident, but just for stories sake): Lord, did I choose You?  What do you think?  It felt like I chose You but the older I got, the more I wondered.  What did I say and rest in that, my son…



Rick Sutton