But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil. Hebrews 5:14
Just as wisdom is layered and sometimes unpredictable, the same is true with evil. It can be equally hard to recognize. You may object and remind me that we teach our children to know basic right from wrong. Lying vs. telling the truth. Working hard vs. laziness. Envying vs. sharing another’s joy. Hoarding vs. giving. The good is obviously good and the bad even feels evil.
The writer of Hebrews says that I need to prize spiritual maturity because the solid food I get with it helps me distinguish between good and evil. There is a realm where it’s not so cut and dry. These are the deeper layers that are riddled with shadows of deception. For instance, my blind spots prevent me from seeing good and evil clearly. The deceitfulness of my own heart leads me to make wrong assumptions. My motives are mixed, too. Because of that, what appears altruistic might be giving my ego a huge payoff.
I can also make idols of my strengths and though it appears I’m using them for someone else’s good, I get a reward. I alleviate another’s distress with comfort and a gracious gesture, but it just may be that I relish the stories that will be told about my big heart. What looks like ‘good’ is little more than self-serving behavior.
However, the flip side is also difficult to discern. What seems evil can really be good. When I withhold an answer from someone who needs it, it can feel unloving but perhaps God has led me to step back so the other person can dig deeply in prayer to hear the Spirit for himself. Or a rebuke can offend me as I feel it was un-Christlike and unkind, but God may use it to wake me up to something I’ve been unwilling to face.
Living on the milk of the word gives me a Kindergarten definition of good and evil. The problem is ~ life’s issues have long left grade school. Many times, I have taken a dilemma I’m facing to someone older and more experienced and it has left them stumped. They just couldn’t tell what was what without a season of prayer. Solid food, (i.e. the grasp of scriptural principles against the messy backdrop of life), provides an avenue for wisdom to emerge from around the corner.
My times are complex but Your voice untangles every web to make the way plain. Write Your Word in my heart, make me a kingdom thinker. Amen