You must treat them like small children, in two senses, with love, for you do love them, but also with the rod of correction. That rod does not necessarily infer physical punishment, but chastisement in the form of reproving, for these are not small children we are speaking about, but grown men and women, not mature in the faith yet, still in the milk, but past the age that one could refer to them as children.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 is not our reference verse here, Proverbs 8:17 is,
“I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.”
These adults, as we should call them, are children in the Word, and those who have exercised the faith they have been blessed with must feed them with the milk of the Word, the foundational precepts, not the meat, for they will not accept it. But the question I offer you today is this, taking into consideration their cognitive abilities, how long shall we expect them to remain children in the knowledge of what the Lord requires of them to be profitable to the Kingdom of heaven and for His glory?
I speak here to men of God, not to those who are the weaker vessel, for less in this area is required of them, they are to be helpmeets, not teachers or preachers of the Word, and so in this regard less is better, for certain burdens are not placed upon them. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1st Cor. 11:3)
How then should the man of God react over time to one who has been called by the Almighty who, sometimes over many years, refuses to grow in His grace and knowledge and himself become a teacher of those who are in need of milk, those who remain children in the Word when much time has passed? “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (Heb. 5:12) Two years? Ten? A lifetime?
Behind every man of God who is married there is a godly woman, one who prays for him, encourages him, pushes him forward when he begins to falter, I have been blessed in this area, but I wonder about those who claim salvation from the Lord who, after many years are still in the milk, what say their wives to them? Who becomes the Spiritual head of the household when the wife grows in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, but the man refuses to seek the meat of the Scriptures? And how are those who have been placed in a position of Spiritual authority over them to react to that man?
One must question, after careful consideration of their life, where does this man’s heart lay, what prize does he seek if it is not Christ?
Your church is full of these men, refusing to take the mantel of responsibility for the Spiritual growth of not only themselves, but of the household they have been blessed with. Kind words do not phase them, reproving them falls on deaf ears, and in time their salvation will come into question. That question, in love, over time, must be asked by you of them. Can you do that?