This article was originally published here.
Kids want to grow up. We see the excitement on their faces when it’s “Show and Tell” day at school. Kindergarten classes across the nation create a special day for kids to dress up and proudly announce what the many years of school in the future will be in pursuit of. Consequently, three-foot-tall firemen, teachers, doctors, and athletes decked in costume from head to toe drag whatever props necessary and get to pretend their dreams have come true for a few hours.
When I was a young girl, I gave myself an extra middle name. I proclaimed to everyone I met at the grocery store, doctor’s office, and my school that my name was Jennifer-Lauren-Big Girl-Cooper. This title proved my big-ness and so did my liking for coffee. I took on coffee drinking (and never stopped thankfully) and the reading of the newspaper in the mornings with my dad. Even more, I told every waiter I was too big for the kids’ menu and too big for a booster seat and too big for my britches—though I didn’t mention the obvious.
As I wanted to become more like my parents—the grown-ups, I watched, asked questions, and mimicked all while they smiled (or laughed) at my doing so. Likewise, my daughter instinctively (and with some practice) reaches milestones of development, and we, too, take much joy in watching while she, in turn, delights to see our joy. In a similar way, our Heavenly Father delights (yet infinitely more) in seeing his children grow, and we also have joy in learning everything about him and understanding his love for us.
But this desire to grow-up does not remain. One day, which seems like in the blink of an eye, we stop wanting to grow-up because we fear growing old. Better yet, we may get bogged down with the monotony of life. There’s nothing left to look forward to. Every day repeats itself. Wrinkles set in. Exercise hurts more. The good days are gone. The days of carrying around the Hello Kitty lunchbox without condemnation are gone. Growing up didn’t live up to its expectation (or so we think).
WE SHOULD WANT TO GROW UP TOO
As Christians, many of us go through a similar season. A point came where we heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and put our faith in him—repenting from our sinful ways. We took great delight in his Word filled with promises, stories, and hope. We saw the more spiritually mature Christians (and hopefully Jesus) and wanted to grow to be like them. We wanted to read the Bible, memorize it, and live it. We graciously delighted in it, and our Father exploded with joy in the heavens.
But we grew weary of growing and stalled, not because God is not faithful but because of our lack in perseverance. The everyday spiritual disciplines became a chore though they shouldn’t, and God felt like someone you knew too well (although he’s unsearchable).
I’ve gone through seasons of devouring the Word and seasons of fighting to desire the smallest piece of it. I’ve discipled girls who week in and week out justify how they didn’t have much time for God’s word. Sadly, I guarantee they took the time to eat three meals a day. They realized the importance of food for their body, and they want it, too. It’s delicious. It even brings comfort.
A few verses to illustrate:
“I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.” –Job 23:12
“And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that ma does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” –Deuteronomy 8:3
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” –Psalm 119:103
“As newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” –1 Peter 2:2
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.” –Jeremiah 15:16
God’s word is more delightful than honey and dark chocolate and filet mignon and scalloped potatoes and sweet tea and dare I say—coffee! Oh, how we should feast on it and be filled!
FIVE WAYS TO EAT THE WORD
My pastor Dustin Cook and his wife have taught me these five ways to eat God’s Word through years of teaching, relationship, and mentoring. We eat Scripture by hearing it, reading it, memorizing it, meditating on it, and studying it. Below we will look at each:
– Hearing the Word
- We hear the good news of the gospel—either audibly through another Christian or from his written Word—in order to put our faith in Christ (Rom. 10:17).
- We hear pastors preach the Word (hopefully) and receive it with all eagerness while testing its validity according to the scriptures (Acts 17:11).
- We hear it in fellowship with other believers as they exhort, rebuke, or comfort us (Heb. 10:24-25, 2 Cor. 1:3-5, Gal. 6:1)
- We hear from God himself by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rev. 3:20, Is. 50:4).
– Reading the Word
- We read the Word every day so that we may fear God and obey him in humility (Deut. 17:18-19).
- We read all of the Word, Old Testament and New Testament, for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).
– Memorizing the Word
- We memorize scripture because God commands us to (Prov. 7:1-3, Col. 3:16, Deut. 6:6, Prov. 22:17-21).
- We memorize scripture to avoid sin (Ps. 119:11, Prov. 15:28).
- We memorize scripture to fight Satan (Matt. 4, Eph. 6:17).
- We memorize scripture to share it with others (1 Pt. 3:15, Jer. 20:9, 1 Thess. 2:13).
– Meditating on the Word
- We meditate on the Word by talking to ourselves, reflecting, pondering, and exercising our minds with the purpose to renew our fleshly mind into the mind of Christ and to better apply what we learned (Josh. 1:8, Ps. 1:2-3, Jas 1:25, Lk. 6:45, Phil. 4:8, Col. 3:2).
– Studying the Word
- We diligently study God’s Word to have a right understanding of it (2 Tim. 2:15).
- We study the Word to teach it (Ezra 7:10).
- We study the Word to recognize false teachers (2 Pt. 3:16).
All five of these ways to feast on the Word of God causes growth in the believer if put to practice. Scripture teaches that we should read the Word and be in God’s presence (Ps. 119:147-148). The final three methods of memorizing, meditating, and studying may call for specific times. We must put these into practice first. Then, share it with others. As result, we will grow and make disciples who grow as well..
Kids want to grow up. They delight in the process and even try to hasten it. We, too, should delight in the process towards spiritual maturity. What a privilege it is to grow into the likeness of Jesus Christ! May we feast on God’s Word and allow it to nourish us as God intended it to.