What If I Don't Crave God's Word?

Many people reading this will believe that a regular diet of God’s Word is essential for a Christian’s spiritual health. If you have spent any length of time in a faithful church, this comes as no surprise. The Word of God itself is clear on this matter when the apostle Peter says, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). In context, the “pure spiritual milk” is “the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23), and it is this Word that brings about spiritual growth for the Christian. A believer should not expect to grow spiritually apart from the influence of God’s Word.

But Peter says more than this in verse 2. He doesn’t speak of God’s Word as a pile of spiritual vegetables that Christians must dutifully choke down in order to get big and strong. Rather, they are to “long” for God’s Word. Other translations render the word, “desire,” “yearn,” and “crave.” These words make perfect sense in combination with Peter’s call to desire God’s Word, “like newborn infants.” If you have children of your own or you’ve served in the church nursery, this communicates clearly. When babies want the nourishment of milk, they will let you know and it won’t be with a whisper. Commenting on this verse, Edmund Clowney writes, “Any delay at feeding time brings a powerful reaction from the tiny person. For an infant, milk is not a fringe benefit.”¹ Likewise, God’s Word is not a fringe benefit to the Christian, and therefore, we should crave it with the same intensity as a baby when it’s time to eat.

With a call to this level of yearning, you may be thinking, “But what about those seasons in my life when I don’t desire God’s Word like that… How can I obey this command if I don’t feel the craving?” To that question, Peter has two answers. First, consider the command in verse 1 that comes before the command to crave: “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” This command should not be separated from the command in verse 2, because both are part of the same sentence.² Wayne Grudem explains the importance of this grammatical choice when he says, “Peter implies that ‘putting away’ unloving practices (v. 1) is necessary for spiritual growth (v. 2), for the two verses are part of one long command. Someone who is practicing ‘deceit’ or ‘envy’ or ‘slander’ will not be able to truly long for ‘pure spiritual milk.’”³

With this in mind, if you are not craving God’s Word, then it may be because there are sins in your life you need to confess and forsake. Perhaps your heart has become insensitive to your need for God’s Word because you have been harboring sin and refusing to cast it away. Like nicotine curbing a person’s appetite for the nourishment of food, it could be that sin is curbing your hunger for Scripture. Ask the Lord to examine your heart and reveal anything that is keeping you from desiring His truth, so that you can repent and be freed up to yearn for what will bring you spiritual health.

The second answer to the dilemma of not longing for God’s Word is found in verse 3. Peter adds, “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” For those who have tasted the goodness of God through salvation in Christ, there is the promise of spiritual growth as we return to Scripture again and again with a hunger for its nourishment. But this short verse also helps us cultivate that hunger. How so? Edmund Clowney, again, is helpful here: “What we taste in Scripture is not simply the variety and power of the language. What we taste is the Lord.… The word shows us that the Lord is good; his words are sweeter than honey to our taste because in them the Lord gives himself to us.”⁴ If you don’t yearn for God’s Word, then remind yourself that it is not like any other book, because in it we encounter God Himself. We should not read the Bible as just a history book, though there is much history in it. We should not read the Bible as just a book of wisdom, though it is filled with wisdom. We should read it as a conduit through which we know, cherish, and fellowship with the God who has lavished His grace on us in Christ.

If we do not crave for God’s Word as Peter commands, then remember that the problem is never with God’s Word, the problem is with us. But the same Word that we should crave is the Word that tells us how to cultivate that craving.

Note: This article originally appeared on thecbcd.org. We encourage you to visit the Center for Biblical  Counseling and Discipleship where you can find helpful, biblical resources by a number of trusted pastors and authors.

¹ Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter, 78.
² Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 99.
³ Ibid.
⁴ Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter, 80-81.

Brent Osterberg




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