November 9, 2011
The Hunger: Is It In You?
Alex Crain: Editor, Christianity.com
"...like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation."
Hebrews 12:1, NIV
Crave is a word of intense longing. According to this text, the type of appetite we are to have for the Word of God is that of a newborn child, desperate to feed. Peter isn't talking about being infants in Christ. That's not his point. Rather, he's simply talking about hunger. He is talking about desiring the Word.
The Greek word here (epipotheo) means to long for greatly, to earnestly desire and even to starve. Such hunger is natural. All living things crave nourishment. Dying and dead things do not. If hunger isn't present, there's something wrong.
Interestingly, the wrong things that Peter mentions in this passage are not the "big ones" you might think of—the grosser sins of the pagan life. Rather, they are the common everyday vices that destroy relationships. These are the sins that undermine the mutual acceptance and belonging that ought to exist between believers, regardless of skin color, birthplace or position—whether social, educational or economic.
I once heard these sins called "tuxedo" sins because they seem to be tolerated even by people who appear to be most respectable. Because they are so common, we can sometimes think of them as small and harmless. Not so, according to Scripture.
Having Malice? Ill will? Don't we all do that? Yes, but God says: "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor" (Romans 12:10).
Deceit? God says: "Put away lying, let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another." (Ephesians 4:25)
Hypocrisy & Slander? Yes, these too need to be put away as God says they:
- are characteristics of the devil himself: (Revelation 12:10)
- separate friends (Proverbs 16:28)
- cause strife (Proverbs 26:20)
- sow discord among the brethren (Proverbs 6:19)
- destroy neighbors (Proverbs 11:9)
- can lead to violence and murder (Psalms 31:13)
The truth is, we must be UNTAUGHT these fleshly, ordinary responses that are so deeply rooted in our minds and hearts. Lack of zeal for God and His Word; being bored with or indifferent to the Bible are clear indicators that these sins are still there, robbing us of spiritual nourishment.
This is not meant to give you a guilty conscience and just leave you wallowing there. First Thessalonians 5:9 is clear that "God has not destined us for wrath, but for salvation." Francis Schaeffer speaks to this also in chapter eight of his book, True Sprituality: "God means us to have, as one of His gifts in this life, freedom from a false tyranny of the conscience."
So, like any good doctor, Peter not only points out the problem but also gives the solution—not striving in our own strength or trusting in our confession of sin but trusting in the gospel of Jesus Christ—in the Savior Himself. The price He paid for sin is enough. We can have forgiveness, cleansing and renewed hunger for the Word in Christ!
Intersecting Faith & Life:
If you have a good appetite for the Word of God and are enjoying daily nourishment from reading it and meditating on its truth, pause and thank God for that clear sign of life, health and maturity. If not, ask God to give you eyes to see what may be keeping you from longing for His Word.