I remember the first time Peggy and I fed our son, Matthew, something other than milk. He was too young to form words, but he didn’t need any, because the contortion on his face conveyed everything that needed to be said: he was not pleased. (In all fairness, oatmeal would have been an easier transition step than carrots. Sorry, Bud.) Maturing the pallet is not an easy endeavor—infants graduate from milk only to encounter vegetables, those unwanted intruders banished to the outer reaches of toddlers’ plates everywhere. If it weren’t for persevering parents, they would eschew the nutrients they need in favor of the flavors they want.
Early church leaders understood the importance of spiritual nourishment, yet they also knew our capacity to ingest Kingdom truths evolves over time—it is a process. “Anyone who lives on milk [is] still an infant,” we read in the letter to Hebrew believers, “But solid food is for the mature.”1 What is spiritual milk? The writer goes on to describe elementary Biblical teachings: turning to God in faith, resurrection from the dead and facing eternal judgment, among others. If we’re still struggling with these truths, then Peter suggests we stick with the most elementary of foods, “Crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.”2
Then our tastes grow as we grow, for “solid food is for the mature.”3 What do meat and veggies of the unseen variety look like? The Bible doesn’t provide a grocery list of senior staples, per se, but it does direct us to a daily diet of the Word: “Man shall not live by bread alone,” said Jesus to the tempter, “but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”4 So, we expand our appetite and take in truth, rounding out our regimen with the obedience that comes from trust, just as Jesus did: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”5
Given all that’s on our plate in a worldly sense, it is easy to skip meals that strengthen us for this life and the next. It is likewise tempting to pick at a passage without even tasting it. May I encourage us above all else to prioritize time to savor Scripture? Every word—milk, meat and even carrots—is life itself, both your life and mine.
“I am the bread of life… If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” (John 6:48-58)
Father, send your Spirit to slow me down and savor your word. Strengthen me in truth, and fill me with joy to do your work. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
1, 3 Hebrews 5:14
2 1 Peter 2:2
4 Matthew 4:4
5 John 4:34