My father used to say that hunger is the key to spiritual growth. Under inspiration, Peter said, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby,” (1 Pet. 2:2). A series of thoughts will unfold the richness of this text.
First, newborns are hungry by nature. They crave the milk they need for growth.
Second, a too quick reading of the text may miss an important detail—the word desire is a command. Therefore, the responsibility here is just that, a responsibility and not an inevitability. We are responsible to desire God’s truth like newborn babes that innately desire nourishment.
Third, the object of the desire is “the sincere milk of the word.” The idea is “pure spiritual milk,” the pure spiritual milk of the word. With this, an emphasis is placed on the spiritual realities connected to the words. It’s not just words, but the truth behind them, understanding what they mean. Ultimately, this is desiring Jesus for He is truth personified (John 14:6). Jesus is the living Word.
Fourth, desire indicates more than just simple reading. It’s hunger. It’s thirst. It’s the passion to imbibe the truth of what is read. (This is key because we won’t imbibe what we don’t desire.) Desire necessarily includes the intent to depend on the truth we have come to understand. It implies faith. Faith is how we “eat” the nourishment of God’s Word. Without the Word being mixed with faith, we don’t profit from it (Heb. 4:2). Just as we depend on food by eating it, faith imbibes the truth by depending on it.
Finally, when we “eat” the food, when we depend on the spiritual truth, we are nourished by it, and as a result, we grow spiritually. Faith accesses grace. The Spirit enables according to the truth depended on. This is growing in grace (2 Pet. 3:18).
In my personal experience, desire that imbibes cultivates more desire. Feeding an appetite increases that appetite. In the physical realm, even a particular food that you didn’t care for initially can become a food of choice, if through habitual eating, you cultivate an appetite for it. The same is true spiritually.
Our appetites reveal our values. Do we desire earthly things more than heavenly? If so, it reveals inappropriate feeding habits or, at the very least, incorrect priorities. This may not be something overtly sinful but rather something other than spiritual reality centered on Jesus as our primary source of delight.
Desire the living Word—Jesus—and grow. When you experience Jesus, you will desire more of Jesus. But if you presently feel dull regarding desire, begin with just trusting the truth of this text regardless of how you feel. Soon, your desire will increase.
John Van Gelderen