As most of you know who are connected to the coming and goings of my family, we finished off the year with two new grandchildren in December, just a week apart. When the family is around or when we are visiting, it really has struck me again about just how much eating a baby does. You could almost say that a baby lives to eat.
And so it is not surprising that Peter would use this picture to speak of hunger for growing in the Lord …
2:1 – Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
The “therefore” ties us back to the previous thought about the enduring word of God. Peter’s readers should nourish themselves on that which is for their health, that which is the stuff of eternity.
Those things that are natural to the passing world involve such items as are listed here to be gotten rid of: malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander. The first two words speak of ill intent to do and speak wrongly. The others are no better; from envy, one might purposefully feign affection and support while falling short of truth and speaking of others in an ill light.
Think of a presidential debate stage and the way each speaks of the other. This is a high-stakes illustration of the natural way of promoting self at the expense of others. How would that work in a church family environment? But that is that way of this world.
Rather, believers should set aside the gravitational pull of the natural self, and they should choose rather the healthy choice of truth and enrichment through regular connection to God. This is especially true since even a taste of this (quoting from Psalm 34:8) would make the believer understand that it is much better and to be preferred. This brings healthy growth for self and for others.
So it is rather stupid to not choose this course. I saw recently where someone voiced the frustrated opinion that they wished it was not so much hard work to be healthy physically, that they’d rather eat anything and just be lazy. I understand that feeling, to be honest! In my efforts to be healthier, I have to say that I get so sick of fruits, vegetables, grains, salads, etc. If only it tasted better than the unhealthy choices, it would be a lot easier path to follow.
But with God’s truth and his word, it is the better tasting way to go as well as the healthier choice for spiritual growth. For some reason (let’s call it the sin nature), this is not naturally the immediately-believed path. But the results are undeniable, even in … especially in … a world where the follower of Christ lives as a “chosen stranger.”
You wrote, “Think of a presidential debate stage and the way each speaks of the other. This is a high-stakes illustration of the natural way of promoting self at the expense of others. How would that work in a church family environment?… ”
Christ’s way is different than the world’s way. It is good you brought this up. Human nature particularly needs to be kept in check when it comes time to wrestle with evil, whether in the church or out of the church. The way of the world does overly resort to denigration rather than building up others with edifying words. Your post reminds me to pay attention to a scripture that I felt important enough to write out so as to remember and meditate and regularly review. Paul wrote this much better than I certainly could.
2 Timothy 2:23-26 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (New International Version)
Tim Lester last week in his sermon remarked about how frequently in social media people slam other people. Debates and differences of opinion (especially online) seem to encourage ridicule.
These verses then in 2 Timothy are vital for those who want to engage in the battlefield of ideas. Other scriptures deal with blessing those who curse us … such scriptures are probably just as refreshing when applied today as they were millenia ago. The battleplan of striving to overcome evil with good … of being a peacemaker is following the divine plan. Jesus promised some sort of blessing on peacemakers.
Where is the “like” button? I can’t find the “like” button here!