… so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love. (Ephesians 4:14-16)
Sister Vassa comments:
“We must no longer be infants (νήπιοι), tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of teaching, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in methodical scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…” (Eph 4: 14-15) Here the Apostle uses the word “infants” (νήπιοι), which is often used in the New Testament in a negative sense, signifying an immaturity and gullibility that is easily influenced and manipulated. It is not the same word used by the Lord, when He tells us to be like “children” (παιδία). St. Paul’s warning is particularly important today, in the age of the internet.
We are confronted with various opinions and messages, be it in the form of advertising, news, or comments on social media, which mostly flow at us in a chaotic and coincidental manner. Almost imperceptibly we can find ourselves “tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of teaching,” clicking on contents that might be unnecessary, burdensome, or even damaging for our spiritual health. An indiscriminate absorption of all this information can negatively affect my capacity to “speak the truth in love.” (Reflections with Morning Coffee: 365 Daily Devotions for Busy People, Kindle 3787-3795)
While Christ says we must become like children to enter the Kingdom (Matthew 18: 3), He was not telling us to be immature or gullible. We are not to behave in a childish way, lacking wisdom or understanding. As St Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:20 – “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.”
‘Now the time has come for us to show evidence of such a way of life. For we must not remain children,’ he said, ‘or infants, forever. On the contrary, we must now devote ourselves to more perfect thoughts, and lay hold of manly resolutions, and take the greatest virtues by storm.’ (Abba Apelles, THE LIVES OF THE DESERT FATHERS, p 94)