Growing Up (by Jim Cymbala)

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…” (1 Peter 2:2 NIV)

Everyone loves babies.  They’re cute and defenseless, and they elicit compassion and a desire on the part of their parents to protect and nurture them.  No matter how much parents might love their infants, however, their joy is to see them grow.  A four-year-old acting like a one-year-old would cause any mother or father great concern.  It’s no different for the believer.  The angels rejoice when one sinner comes to repentance, but once that happens, it is the joy of our heavenly Father to see his children grow.

The Apostle Peter tells us that in order to mature as Christians, we have to take in the pure, spiritual milk of the Word, thus comparing God’s Word to the basic nourishment children need every single day in order to develop.  However, in order to have an appetite for this spiritual milk that is the Word, the apostle tells us that we have to put off certain things.  The first is malice, which is essentially ugly thinking or actions toward others, and which is in direct contradiction with how good God has been to you and me.  Peter also exhorts us to lay aside all deceit, by which a person “plays” another brother or sister to gain an advantage.  This is followed by the directive to put away all hypocrisy.  In other words, don’t be a bad actor, feeling one way and acting in the completely opposite manner.  Instead, be real; say what you mean and mean what you say.  Another problem is envy:  the bad feeling a person gets when someone else is blessed.  This doesn’t make sense for the believer, considering the fact that God has blessed us abundantly, even when we haven’t deserved it.  Finally, the exhortation ends with the command to put away all slander: talking about people to make them look bad, whether or not what is being said is true; and even gossiping about another brother or sister with the pretense of asking others for prayer on their behalf.

Once these things are dealt with—not in our own strength, but as the Holy Spirit lives in and through us—we will then be able to take in the spiritual food we need.  Why?  Because as we open our hearts and by the Holy Spirit rid our lives of anything that is clogging our system and our walk with Christ, we will then crave that pure Word of God.  And it will no longer be a question of reading a verse or two a day simply because that’s what a Christian ought to do, though that’s certainly true, but because there is a longing in us for God’s Word.  As we take in the pure spiritual milk of the Word, we will then be able to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and forever!  Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)

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