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Food For Growth

Food for Growth - MyFriendDebbie.com“like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2 NASB)

“…man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3b)

     One of the greatest joys of motherhood for me was having the privilege of nursing my babies. When they put my first born in my arms to be fed, it was such a miracle to see how quickly he latched on.  He was obviously hungry and once he realized mom was the source of nourishment, he latched right on and drank until he was tired.

     In the above verse found in 1 Peter 2:2, the word of God is compared to the mother’s milk and we are admonished to have the eagerness for it that the nursing child has for his mother’s milk.  We will take a closer look at this passage and consider its implication in our lives and how to live out this admonition.

The Worth of the Word

     In order to get the full impact of this verse, we will observe a couple of the key words. We will first investigate the Greek meaning of the word “pure.”  In the King James Version it is translated “sincere.”  It is the Greek word “Adolos” which means “without guile, unadulterated.”  It is that which is true to its origin or source. 

     Vines in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, states that in ancient papyri writings, this word refers to “seed, corn, wheat, oil, wine…”  All these are expressions of their true source.  The source of a seed is the tree it came from and it will bear the fruit of that tree.  The source of corn is its seed and it will bear the type of corn that the “DNA” of the seed dictates.  The wheat also has its source in the seed and will be the type of wheat that the seed dictates.

     The same natural order applies to the oil and the wine.  Another simpler observation is that these are food or nourishment references.  There are other Greek words that could have been used to indicate purity of the word of God but those would have referred to expressions of character.  In 1 Peter 2:2, it is not a matter of the expression of Godly character but of nourishment coming whole and complete from its source – God Himself.  This is further confirmed by the rest of the verse that says, “that we may grow by it.”

      Another key word in 1 Peter 2:2, is “desire.”  It is the Greek word “epipotheo” which means “to intensely crave possession.” 

     Using these two key words, lets look at the context in which they are used.  The verse begins with “as newborn babes…”  In those days the mother’s or surrogate mother’s milk was the only form of nourishment for newborns.  If it was withheld or delayed the child would cry earnestly for it because he was hungry.  It was pure, undefiled nourishment coming from its original source – the mother.  As this need was consistently fulfilled, the child would grow.

     This verse uses a simile to draw a comparison between the newborn’s desperate craving for milk with the admonition for us to desire the word of God.  It is a challenge or command for us to be stirred with a veracious hunger for the word of God.  As a baby who consistently goes without nourishment is considered to be malnourished, so are we when we go consistently without reading and meditating on the word of God.  Colossians 3:16 admonishes us to “Let the word of God dwell in you richly with all wisdom.” 

     Deuteronomy 8:3 uses another metaphor to illustrate the necessity of the word of God.  It is compared to bread which was the “staff of life.”  Their bread was not white enriched bread nor was it whole grain in name only.  It was pure whole grain bread that had all the nourishment needed to sustain life.  The author of this verse was saying that bread is not all you need for life.  You would expect the next words would be that “you need a little meat also” but that is not what he said.  Instead he said, “but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”   

     This seems to go along with 2 Peter 1:3 that states, “..His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness…”  Everything we need for life and godliness has been provided for us in His word.  Success was promised to Joshua if he meditated and obeyed God’s word (Joshua 1:8).  The Psalmist in Psalms 1:2,3 declared the prosperity of those who would delight in the Word and make it their meditation day and night.  There is also a parallel between reading and meditating on the word of God and being filled with the Holy Spirit.  This is seen by comparing Colossians 3:16 with Ephesians 5:18-20.  The reason for this parallel is because of what the word of God does in us.

The Work of the Word

     The word of God cleanses our souls ( Ephesians 5:26), transforms our character as it renews our minds (Romans 12:2) and feeds our spirit (2 Peter 1:3).  It does this so that  we may grow into the likeness of Christ ( 2Peter 1:4).  It also comforts us and is a weapon against our enemy, the devil and his demonic forces (Ephesians 6:17b).It provides a mental grid by which we can discern truth from error.  It enables us to discern the voice of God over all other voices and sensitizes us to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

     As you can see, the word of God – the Bible is vital to our spiritual existence and our ability to live victoriously on the earth.  Psalms 119:105 describes the word of God as that which illuminates the path we travel in this life. 

How to Work with the Word 

     Some may wonder how to take advantage of this spiritual food.  We start by reading the Scriptures.  If you are new to reading Scripture, you may want to start with the New Testament in this order:  Mark, Luke, Matthew and John then Acts.  These are narratives that you may find easier to read.  In addition, you will learn more about Christ and His ministry on the earth as well as how God used the Apostles to spread the Gospel. 

     After that I recommend that you read the rest of the New Testament beginning with 1&2 Corinthians, leaving Romans, Hebrews and Revelation for last.  To help with understanding what you read ask the Holy Spirit to teach you for it His job to lead us into all truth (John 16:13).  In addition, there are resources available such as commentaries and Bible Handbooks.  One resource that would be very helpful is “What’s the Bible All About” by Henrietta Mears. 

     As important as it is to read the Bible, it is equally important to meditate on what we read.  To meditate literally means “to mumble.”  It can be likened to a cow that after swallowing its food, brings it up again to chew on it some more. 

     When you see a verse or a Scriptural concept or principle gleaned from your Bible reading, consider how it applies to your life in general and specifically for what you have to face that day.

  • Write the verse down on an index card and think on it throughout the day. 
  • Recite it. 
  • Write in a journal how it impacted you. 
  • Share it with a friend. 
  • Allow it to marinate in your heart and impact your life.

     Scripture is one of the primary ways God speaks to us.   You will find that you have tapped into the source of joy, peace, and victorious Christian living. Let’s pray.


   “Lord God, thank You for Your word, the Bible.  Stir in us an appetite for it so that we may be able to say that it is “sweeter than honey.” (Psalms 19:10b).  Help us yearn for Your word and feed on it daily.  Use it to mold us into the characteristics of Christ.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Copyright © 2008-2015 Shermaine Jones

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