How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Have you ever heard the words, “milk” and “meat” used to describe different parts of God’s word? Though the Bible does use these words, their meaning is often distorted. Today, spiritual milk refers to the basics (I.e. The gospel, that you need to pray, read your Bible), and the meat refers to the more complex (actually reading your Bible and praying, end times, the gospels, etc). Here’s the problem: the Bible does not describe spiritual milk and meat the same way we do. We’re aiming lower when we should be looking up. The more I read Hebrews 5, the clearer this seems to be.
Firstly, I believe we have lowered our standards and have convinced ourselves that we need less of God’s word than we actually do.
It’s easy to understand why: the Bible is a big book. We’re told almost every day that we should read it (through our conscience, friends, or pastors). It’s intimidating because we know so little of it; we don’t feel capable to understand what it is saying, Maybe, that’s the issue. What if our lack of study has led to a lackluster desire for reading the Bible? It sounds counter-intuitive, but think about it: if you never tried chocolate once in your life, it’s unlikely you’d ever crave it. If you have never heard of the beach, then there’s no way you’d want to go swimming in an ocean you had never seen or touched. Our interaction with God is supposed to be satisfying, and meant to be relational, not artificial. The more you pursue God, the less you’ll want everything else- you’ll want Him most of all.
Worshiping God is the greatest thing a human can do: by admitting we can’t do anything good without our Creator. This interaction is through the Bible, not just in it- it’s the avenue where you meet God. It engages your mind and aligns (or focuses) it on God’s will. If our minds are not in sync with God’s heart, then how can we expect to desire God?
So, here’s what I’m saying: We need to think about the Bible in a much bigger and more beautiful way. I’m not saying we need to dramatize or exaggerate its importance, instead we need to remind ourselves that it is the most important book ever written. It’s a book with universal truths written by the most beautiful Person (God). There is nothing more beautiful than listening to God; it changes us. Martha was distracted with too much serving, while Mary sat at Jesus feet and listened to His teaching (Luke 11). There comes a point where actions mean little and words mean much. Faith comes by hearing God’s word (Rom. 10)- want to grow your faith? You need God’s spiritual diet.
Secondly, this is for all my friends involved in ministry. Friends, we need to be careful about dividing God’s word into, “milk” and “meat” without a point of reference. Too often we use our own judgement to determine what people need to hear, when we just need to explain God’s word clearly and not be afraid to deal with tough passages. In the end, it’s God who gives them understanding, not you (1 John 2). Even the Apostle Peter said that some things in the Bible are hard to understand- he never said don’t read them (2 Pet. 3), or that we couldn’t understand them- we have the Holy Spirit to help us. Peter is challenging us to grow.
Thirdly, if you read the passages where these words appear, milk means far more than believing the gospel, and meat means much more than just reading your Bible.
Remember these three words from Paul: “preach the word.” Let’s stop slicing and dicing, copying and pasting- let’s just learn (and teach) what it says. As Paul told Timothy, rightly divide the word of truth- teach the Bible correctly, not incompletely.
Today, I encourage you to start reading God’s word with the goal to know God. Don’t be intimidated by the book- read it as a book! It has history, poetry, prophecy, and wisdom- don’t try to spiritualize a passage. Ask God to open your eyes and to help you understand. Tomorrow, we’ll look at what spiritual “milk” and “meat” really are.