|TESTS OF OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
It is no accident that John addresses these various groups. In any family situation there are these same age groups, which are just different stages of growth. In any group of Christians we will find the same. Some have grown. Some are still growing. Some haven't even started to grow.
Childhood is the age of growth, and of learning. Is there any greater heartbreak to parents than to have a child who doesn't grow, who doesn't develop? Would that be true for God also? Does our heavenly Father sometimes look at us and wonder why we haven't progressed in our Christian life as he wants us to? What God is looking for is spiritual maturity. The first fact of the gospel is in verse 12, where children are mentioned. That is forgiveness, but remember that is only the beginning of our spiritual life.
In verses 13 and 14, John speaks of young men. One characteristic of young men is their strength. A Christian is not strong in his own power, but in the strength that has come to him through God and his Word. If we want to be stronger Christians, we will have to spend time in the Word of God, not just learning about it but letting it speak to us, letting it guide our lives and giving us a strong foundation for our faith.
Who are the fathers of verses 13 and 14? They are the ones closest to maturity-or they should be. John says of them 'you have known Christ'. Isn't that a wonderful description? Age doesn't always mean maturity, does it? Some people have known Christ for a long time but it is very obvious that they haven't grown in Christ. They still act like spoiled immature children. They cause problems for themselves and for everyone else in their church. They need to grow as God has planned for us all. Paul knew the secret of this when he said his one ambition was to know more and more of Christ.
Where are you today in God's family? A child that is beginning to learn and grow? A Christian who has begun to find the secret of strength through Christ? A more mature Christian who knows what it is to walk with Christ in the light of his Word. Where are you today?