1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow up into your salvation, 3 if you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, a living stone—rejected by people but chosen and honored by God— 5 you yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and honored cornerstone, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame. 7 So honor will come to you who believe; but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected—this one has become the cornerstone, 8 and A stone to stumble over, and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the word; they were destined for this. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:1-10
“The longer I live near Jesus and soak in His words, the more I cease to know the old me.” (Christine Wyrtzen)
I read this quote in a devotional this morning, and it reminded me of a question we sometimes hear or ask others: “If you could go back in time and talk to only one person, who would it be?” My answer is always, “Myself!”
Oh, the things I would say to young Julie! It would probably sound something like…
“Listen to people who know more than you do. Don’t be so stubborn! Pray more, worry less. Turn off the TV and read your Bible. Grow up! Stop trying to be like everyone else, and live a holy life.”
It might sound harsh, but it’s only because 20 years later I can clearly see what I was missing out on by refusing to live as a new creation in Christ. I can’t go back, but praise God that He is in the business of redemption and reconciliation!
Nevertheless, it has been a long and often difficult road. I accepted Christ and was baptized at the age of five, but it took me many years to “grow up.” I was well into my 20s and spiritually still a baby, because I only fed myself the milk of the Word on Sunday mornings or when circumstances got tough. Occasionally, I would start having a daily quiet time, but it would only last for a week or two and then fizzle out. I was spiritually malnourished, and those who aren’t well fed won’t last long on the journey.
God wants us to grow up. We are born babies, but we don’t stay babies. I have learned in my study of Scripture that the natural gives us a glimpse of the supernatural. Why do new mothers work so hard and get so little sleep to feed their precious newborns? So they will grow! Anyone who has had a child suffer from failure to thrive knows it can cause complications later in life. Spiritually, when we fail to grow in infancy, we will struggle for years to come.
Just as our physical life is progressive, so is the life of holiness. Once we are called out of the darkness of sin into the light of new life in Christ, we begin to mature. We leave behind old sinful ways, and we learn a new way to live by reading our Bible. We practice prayer and obedience. We take little steps each day toward understanding and living out our purpose as a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. Instead of complaining, we learn to trust God in our suffering. Growth can be painful, but we will never reach maturity without it.
We are impatient people who have become far too accustomed to rapid progress and instant gratification. Praise God that He does not treat us this way! God knows people are slow to change, and He gives us as much time as we need to become the people He created us to be.
I speak first for myself when I say we often stunt our own spiritual growth through disobedience, apathy, busyness, and neglect. It’s true that God meets us where we are, but He has no intention of leaving us there. Now that you have received God’s mercy, let Him feed you so you can grow.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- If you really could go back and talk to your younger self, would he or she see any difference in how you live, speak, or spend your time and money years later? If not, what has been the biggest obstacle to your spiritual growth?
- Think about Peter’s metaphor of Christians as “living stones being built into a spiritual house” (vs. 5). Compare that image with a physical, non-living stone and a physical house. What does it teach you about our spiritual life and home versus our physical life and home?
- If the life of holiness is progressive, how are you tracking your progress?
As a family, look at pictures and/or videos of your child when he or she was a baby, toddler, etc. Tell stories of cute or sweet things your child did at younger ages. Enjoy this time, then point out how weird it would be if your child still did those same things today! Discuss the things your child can do now that he or she couldn’t do as a baby, toddler, etc.
Explain that when we become Christians, we should be learning more about God, and the way we live and act will change. This happens over time by doing things like reading the Bible, praying, and learning from parents and other Christians.
Pray for military members serving outside the U.S. as they engage with cultures that challenge their faith and worldview. Pray for military chaplains and soldiers who know Christ to live a bold witness for Jesus.