What got you out of bed this morning? A blaring alarm clock, an enthusiastic dog, or a crying baby? Maybe you were excited to be one day closer to the weekend or your next vacation. If I’m honest, my love of coffee lures me from my bed most mornings. Sometimes I gaze longingly at my coffeemaker in the evening and anticipate the early morning cup that I’ll enjoy the next day. That warm mug in my hands, those first few sips slowly waking me up…I love coffee and never go a day without it.
I’d love to say I long for, and delight in, God’s Word in the same way. Do I yearn to spend time soaking up the self-revelation of the One who made me, redeemed me, and ordained all my days? Am I so committed to knowing the will of my heavenly Father that I can’t imagine a day without His Word?
If you’re like me, the answers to these questions are a work in progress. Let’s consider together the importance of longing for, and delighting in, God’s Word as well as some practical steps to cultivate this love of Scripture.
Longing for God’s Word
In Peter’s first letter, he exhorts us to long for something much better than our next vacation or the perfect cup of coffee: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1st Peter 2:2-3).
What is this spiritual milk we’re to long for? We find some clues here in the text. First, when Peter says “spiritual”, he uses the Greek word “logikos”. It’s different from the Greek word he uses for “spiritual” two verses later when he mentions a spiritual house. And this word he uses here – logikos – sounds a lot like the Greek word logos, which means “word”.
When we look at the context of this verse, we find more clues that Peter is talking about the Word of God. In 1st Peter 1:23-25, Peter refers to the “living and abiding word of God.” He writes that the “word of the Lord remains forever” and “this word is the good news that was preached to you.” As we move into chapter 2, we see that Peter is telling them to put away sinful words and long for the good news of God’s Word.
In other places in Scripture, being compared to a newborn implies spiritual immaturity, but that is not the context here. Peter wants us to see ourselves as infants who are dependent on someone else to give us what we need to live and to grow. What we need is God’s Word. God has given us His Word so that we might have life and nourishment from it. This is the “pure spiritual milk” Peter wants us to long for.
We need God’s Word to know how we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We also need God’s Word for our daily life as God’s children. Peter says, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1st Peter 2:2, emphasis added).
We feast on the truth of His promises, and as David says in Psalm 34:8, we “taste and see that the Lord is good.” We receive nourishment for each day from God’s Word, and that nourishment is necessary for our growth and maturity in Christ.
Peter’s newborn analogy also teaches us that we need this spiritual milk each day. We would never say about a baby, “Well, she had milk last week. She should be fine for a while without it.” Of course not! Newborns need milk several times a day. And we should view God’s Word the same way—we need it, we can’t live without it, and we need to saturate ourselves with it over and over and over again.
So How Can We Grow Our Longing for God’s Word?
One important step is to stop feeding our cravings with spiritual junk food. Junk food is easy and fun to consume, but it doesn’t ultimately satisfy us. It can leave us feeling empty, still hungry for real nourishment.
It takes effort to read, study, and meditate on God’s Word. It takes very little effort to scroll through Instagram or hit play on the next episode of our favorite show. We’re often tempted to fill our days with distraction and noise that keeps our mind busy but never gives us true rest and peace.
Next, we must fight the temptation to find our hope and peace in worldly sources that promise the information and validation we crave. Scrolling through news headlines won’t soothe our fears. Immersing ourselves in other people’s lives on social media won’t solve our personal struggles. When we bring our fears and our struggles to the Lord, we find hope in the promises of His Word. We are reminded that our heavenly Father is on His throne, He cares for us, and He is working all things for our good and His glory.
To help us choose spiritual milk over junk food, we need to cultivate healthy habits. Have you ever noticed that after exercising, you crave a salad or some fruit—not a cheeseburger and milkshake? In our physical lives, healthy actions grow healthy appetites. And the same is true in our spiritual lives. If we want to grow healthy appetites, we need to choose healthy actions.
The more we feast on God’s Word, the more we taste His goodness, the more we will grow our appetite and longing for more of this spiritual milk. We will see more and more that His Word is more valuable than anything else this world can offer.
Once we long for God’s Word and make time to know it better, we also need to learn to delight in it. Sometimes we sit down with our Bible (and, of course, a cup of coffee), and we’re ready to dig in. But our time in God’s Word feels empty. We’re slogging through our study, but we’re not seeing the growth we hoped for. Learning to delight in God’s Word will help us persevere in those inevitable dry seasons.
Delighting in God’s Word
I love to bore my children with stories about when I was a kid back in “the 1900s”, as they would say. I explain that if you wanted to talk to your friend, first you had to wait until other people in your house were done with the phone. Then you looked up your friend’s number and dialed. You might get a busy signal. You might get an answering machine. You might not hear back from them until the next day.
It never occurred to us that we were developing patience by not having smartphones that enabled us to communicate with anyone, anywhere, instantaneously. We didn’t know there could possibly be another way.
Sometimes I’m tempted to approach Bible reading the same way I approach 2021-style communication. I want something quick. I want an answer to my question, a solution for my problem, or comfort for my pain. If I don’t get it, my time spent in God’s Word feels like it was a waste of time.
The problem isn’t God’s Word; the problem is my expectation of instant results. I need to approach my time in God’s Word like trying to reach a friend in 1981, not 2021. I will learn to delight in God’s Word when I understand that, as Jen Wilkin wrote, “Sound Bible study is rooted in a celebration of delayed gratification.”[i]
So How Can We Grow Our Delight in God’s Word?
Our first step to learning to delight in God’s Word is to view our study as a long-term investment, not a quick fix. We need to stop coming to God’s Word hoping to leave with an answer, a feeling, or an instantaneous change in our heart, perspective, or circumstances. It would be like showing up to your first day of gardening and expecting to leave with a full-grown plant. In our gardens, as well as in our spiritual lives, growth takes time.
Maybe today we plant a seed. Tomorrow we scoop the smallest bit of soil over the seed. The fruit may take a long time to develop. But God promises that His Spirit will bear fruit in our lives. As Galatians 6:9 says, “[I]n due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
Our second step to learning to delight in God’s Word is to understand that it’s about transformation, not information. As someone who has been studying God’s Word for a long time, I often struggle not to zone out when I reach a familiar passage. If I’m reading for information, I may not find anything new. But if I’m reading for transformation, those familiar passages are just as powerful as those I’ve never seen before.
God’s Word isn’t a textbook to teach us about God. It’s living and active (Hebrews 4:12). It transforms us through teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so we are equipped for every good work (2nd Timothy 3:16-17). If, by God’s grace, we are like the good soil in Jesus’ parable of the sower, then God will use our time in His Word to bear fruit in a transformed heart and mind (Luke 8:15). Just like plants grow by having the same sunshine on them every day, God can use even the most well-studied passages to transform and strengthen our hearts.
Lastly, we learn to delight in God’s Word when we study it in community. When I’m struggling through a dry season in my own spiritual life, I’m encouraged by the enthusiasm of other Christians. We aren’t meant to walk this Christian life alone—God has given us the body of Christ. When we study the Bible with others, we benefit from all that the Lord is teaching our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our understanding is strengthened as we articulate what we’re learning to others. We find accountability that will keep us coming back to the Scriptures and growing in our delight in God’s Word.
The riches of the Bible are so vast, we will never mine their depths in our lifetime. As we cultivate our longing for and delight in Scripture, God will be faithful to strengthen us, stretch us, and transform us so we can bear fruit for His glory.
[i] W of the W, p. 81