Devotion for Saturday, May 23, 2020
From: Wendy Beard
You may or may not know this about me, but I am a student of the English language. I absolutely love words, and particularly the written word! In my personal Bible reading, one small phrase in scripture or even a word can sometimes lead me down a “rabbit hole,” diving ever deeper into the meaning.
Currently, I have been studying 1 Peter, and one such verse that particularly pricked my senses was 1 Peter 2:2. I currently am using an NIV study Bible for my quiet times, and in that, the verse reads, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” That word, “crave,” captured my attention. The definition for crave in the English language is, “to feel a powerful desire for.” In every day conversation, crave is probably most often associated with food. We may crave something sweet or salty, and pregnant women often have unique food craving combinations such as the oft referenced pickles and ice cream.
Peter uses that same correlation here in saying that we should, “crave spiritual milk.” But, as I read that, I wondered if crave was the most accurate translation of what he was saying here.
In looking at the Amplified Bible, the King James and the Message, they translate the original Greek word used to express this craving, “epipothesate,” as to “long for,” “desire,” and “drink deep,” respectively. And one of the definitions I found of the original Greek was, “to feel the want of.” These are all strong words; words that drive our actions because to not follow through on what our cravings lead us to pursue often causes the desire for it to deepen until we finally submit to it.
I also noticed that, “crave spiritual milk,” is an imperative. Like when Jesus calls the first disciples in Matthew 4:19, “’Come, follow me,’” both “Come,” and “follow me,” are imperatives. There is an implied “you,” which makes these commands, authoritative orders.
So, what exactly is Peter trying to say here? For that, I dug into the words of a common companion of mine when I do my Bible study, Charles Spurgeon. Here is what he says in his commentary on 1 Peter 2.
“When the apostle describes us under the character of ‘newborn babes,’ he would have us lay aside all that is inconsistent with that character. Newborn children have no malice; they have no guile or craftiness; they have no hypocrisies, nor envies, nor evil speakings. They are clear from all these evils; would God we were as clear as they are! It would be better to be infants, not speaking at all, than to be among those who speak evil. It would be better to begin life over again than to live long enough to have gained a treasure of malice, and a hoard of cunning, and to have learned the tricks of hypocrisy. Let us be as simple as little children, as guileless, as harmless, as free from anything like unkindness as newborn babes are. And inasmuch as we are to follow them in what they have not, let us also imitate them in what they have. Let us desire ardently, as for our very life, the unadulterated milk of the Word. Let us cultivate that combination of hunger and thirst which is found in a little child, that we may hunger and thirst thus after God’s Word. We have done more than taste the Word; we have tasted that the Lord himself is gracious. Let us long to feast more and more upon this divine food, that we may grow thereby.”
Spurgeon’s words go even deeper…we are to “desire ardently, as for our very life” the Word of God. But, he does not say that this is something that comes instantly at our acceptance of Christ as our Savior; it is something to be cultivated, a seed that is planted that we need to water and feed in order for it to grow.
Therefore, this craving comes with work on our part. We need to acknowledge that like a baby needs milk, we need God’s Word. And, when we recognize that need, a hunger and thirst that needs to be quenched, it should drive us deeper and deeper into our reading and studying of His Word.
My prayer for all of us is that we have that longing, that we feel the want, of being in our Bibles, reading, learning and studying who God is and all that He has done and promises. And that this is not something that leads us only into a church building, or in our current state to our televisions or computer screens, to take part in a Sunday morning service. It is the nourishment that we need to make it through all of our days.
Have a blessed day, and thank you for joining me on one of my “rabbit hole” journeys.