DAILY DEVOTION - MAY 13
Listen to excerpts from today's daily devotion on this video.
This Daily Devotion is from A Living Hope, by Sarah Viggiano Wright, published by Bible Study Media, and made available to us through Presbyterian Women.
“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
1 Peter 2:1–3
Anyone who’s been around an infant knows that when it’s time to have their needs met, nothing else matters to them. It’s undeniable that their actions are completely self-interested—they want what they want when they want it! Even older children, who know they are supposed to be patient, get “hangry” (hungry + angry) when they are not fed right away. I joke that my minivan is like a mobile concession stand because I keep snacks inside at all times to avoid “hanger” meltdowns.
While “hangry” is a silly word, it illustrates a serious reality: when we are hungry, we quickly develop laser-like focus on getting what we want. And when we crave something in particular, no substitution will do. So, when we have truly “taste[d] and see[n] that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), nothing else will satisfy us the way God will.
Not that we should be demanding, but the intensity of the craving described in today’s reading is appropriate for the way we should yearn and pine after Scripture, God’s truth. As soon as it registers in our brain that our spirit needs nourishment and our hunger hits, we should stop at nothing until we are satiated. This is the same connotation of the phrase “hungering and thirsting for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). The common thread is that our need for God’s Word should be as palpable as hunger pains, propelling us to obtain that which we desire. Just as infants need the special ingredients in a mother’s milk, so growing Christians need the unique properties of God’s Word to be able to grow up into his character and likeness.
Don’t you wish you craved God and his holy Word the same way you crave food? Me too!
Examining our cravings and what we are willing to do to satisfy them is exactly what Peter wants us to do. Peter uses this memorable, biological analogy of human development—an infant longing for milk—to illustrate what a new life, transformed by God and characterized by earnest love (1:22) looks like.
This “life cycle” of a Christian starts with a new imperishable seed implanting itself in a softened heart (which is a gift from God (Ezekiel 36:26)), that germinates a new life. Onward in the developmental cycle is our “new birth” (1:23), and then our infancy, in which we are to crave “pure spiritual milk” in order to grow up into our salvation.
Keeping in the spirit of this biological metaphor, have you ever seen a baby animal being nursed by its mother? Puppies or piglets will chase down their mothers, root and thrash around until they find what they want, and then ardently drink until they are content. These are the actions of a passionate pursuit of what you desire.
Peter’s command that we “long for” the pure spiritual milk is also translated as “crave.” The verb is imperative, indicating that this yearning should continue to be active in us. We naturally crave food to survive; similarly, our desire for the Word as needed spiritual nourishment should become as natural as a craving. After all, if milk “does a body good,” the milk of God’s Word does far more. It is spiritually, emotionally, mentally, relationally, and holistically nourishing. It yields maturity and growth in us both individually and corporately.
With the proper “nutrients,” we are to grow up into salvation the way a child grows up into the next size of clothing and eventually fills their parents’ shoes. As we grow into the new clothes, we put off the old, ill-fitting, ragged ones.
“Put away” is “to put off, shed, or reject,” and here Peter lists five unwholesome actions that we are to put away: malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. We are to put off all these acts of wickedness the way we shed ourselves of yesterday’s stinky T-shirts or toss out last week’s soured milk. These evil behaviors are the opposite of “sincere brotherly love” (1:22) as they are bent on the destruction of others and/or the community. Simply put: malice is hurting others, deceit is lying to others, hypocrisy is misleading others by pretending to be “other” than you are, envy is wanting what others have, and slander is breaking others down.
Rejecting these sinful behaviors is part of an active pursuit of holy familial love. In fact, we are to replace these actions with their opposites. We are to put away malice and pursue goodwill and the edification of others instead. We are to withhold slander and offer words of encouragement and direct communication. We are to rid ourselves of deceit and robe ourselves in honesty, truthfulness, and integrity. We are to shed ourselves of envy, exchanging it for gratitude and gladness for the success of others. And, most importantly, we are to love, honor, and crave our Lord, living out his holy love and goodness toward others.
If we truly nourish our hearts on the abiding Word of God, we will grow to desire love and more easily reject wickedness, realizing such behavior is disadvantageous for our growing up into salvation. Through his biological illustration, Peter shows us a spiritual reality—when we nourish ourselves on the pure spiritual milk of the Word of God (v. 2), we will grow to hate desires contrary to God (v. 1) and we will grow up into the fullness of who God desires us to be (v. 2).
We will indeed “taste and see that the Lord is good!”