1 Peter 2:1-3
“How much farther?”
“He’s touching me. Mom, make him stop.”
“Dad, Joey just threw up.”
“You’re a poo-poo head.”
“Stop calling me a poo-poo head!”
If you have ever taken a long road trip with children, then you have observed the phenomena firsthand. Once the adventure of beginning the trip wears off, the whining and fighting begins.
Now answer me this: Is this life not like a road trip, and we are all in the car together. In fact, the Bible calls our time on this planet our sojourn. Sometimes things are ok, after we’ve had a good meal and a nap. But other times we carp and snipe at each other. And when we are under stress it gets worse. We become people no one wants to be around.
When the apostle Peter wrote to his Christian audience, he had a specific purpose: to bring hope and calm and healing to a hurting people. People who had, under the stress of persecution, turned their emotions on each other. Carping, sniping, gossip, slander. As often happens when a group is under stress, they forget who the enemy is and treat each other badly.
So what is Peter’s prescription? 1 Peter 2: 1-3 reads, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
He lists five destructive behaviors we commit while on the road trip called life.
Malice: Being mean to people for whatever reason
Deceit: Lying, misleading others, being untruthful
Hypocrisy: Espousing one set of values, but living another
Envy: Jealousy over what others have in their life
Slander: Saying reputation-destroying things about people that aren’t true
Peter says we must rid ourselves of these things. The road trip of life is hard enough without behaviors like this ruining the journey for others.
And once he tells us what to rid from ourselves, he asks us to crave something different. Craving—let’s look at his illustration.
When a new baby is hungry, and is first put to the breast or bottle, it doesn’t know what to do at first. Mom has to help those first few drips into that infant’s mouth. Once that happens, and the child learns how to gain nourishment, then there is no going back. That child will become ravenous at the mere sight of their source of food. All else is forgotten in the child’s yearning for milk. The craving for nourishment is natural for growth, and that is true in our walk with God as well. Look again at verses 2-3.
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
Now it would be very simple for Peter to tell us to simply “sit quietly and BE NICE!” during our sojourn. But he does not follow this tactic. He does something far more effective.
His following verses are an admonition: Craving spiritual milk comes from remembering WHO YOU ARE! Take a look at the verses that follow:
As you come to him, the living Stone . . . you. . . are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.. . you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:4-5: 9.
So what does this mean for us?
We are to get rid of the cranky, whiny, meanness of spirit that stress can lead us to. We are to replace it with a CRAVING. A craving to consume the milk of Jesus’ own holiness as our spiritual milk, our nourishment, our fuel for life and growth.
The Bible says that under stress we turn to the wrong things. We act badly and sin against our brothers and sisters. (Ignore their needs, gossip about them, make snide comments, fail to support them in their walk with God. We get hung up on their faults and foibles and fail to see our own.)
Instead God asks us to CRAVE the pure milk of Christ, especially now that we have had a taste of it. Why? Because that’s who we are.
The most important aspect of this whole subject of growth is one I have not mentioned yet. So far, WE have been the subject of the conversation. But I don’t want to be guilty of a self-help gospel. The growth that comes as a result of taking in the nourishment of God’s word and God’s presence in our life through the Holy Spirit –the growth is from God. Not from us.
“He who began a good work in you will continue it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil. 1.6
Do we not have an amazing God? Is he not awesome who longs for us to receive the maturity he is ready to hand us. We need simply be willing to deny our selfish instincts and embrace who we are as apprentices of Jesus his Son.
CRAVE PURE SPIRITUAL MILK. CONSUME IT and GROW.
Jesus did not give his life on the cross, and rise from the dead, so that we could stay stunted and helpless. He did so that we might live a new life. Abundant life. And if we are mired in the junk of Malice, Deceit, Hypocrisy, Envy, Slander, then Peter has a harsh sounding exhortation to us: GET RID OF THAT GARBAGE.
Instead take into your lives the PURE milk of God’s truth and grow up! The riches of God are astounding and are waiting to be claimed by his child.