Peter’s first general epistle is written to Christians who are going through trying times, largely at the hands of others who are hostile to their Christian perspective and manner of life. When someone gives us a hard time, it’s easy to become consumed with desires for revenge or for their physical harm. And then it’s not long before those desires show up in the way we treat those enemies of the faith.
Our treatment often falls under the categories described in 1 Peter 2:1:
- malice (desiring their harm)
- guile and hypocrisies (being deceptive about how we really feel toward them, feigning “sweetness”)
- envy (wanting their power or position so we can stick it to them like they’re doing to us)
- evil speaking (using every opportunity we can to say something bad about them).
When we’re suffering somehow at the hands of another, I suggest, we easily want that person to suffer instead. But Peter points our desires in a more profitable direction (v. 2). Rather than channeling our desires toward another’s hurt, we need to channel them toward the Scriptures.
His imagery is poignant: “as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk….”
He’s not exhorting us to desire the simple things of Scripture (an image used by Paul in 1 Cor. 3:2), but is drawing an analogy, the point of which is, “With the same eagerness and intensity that a newborn baby desires his mother’s milk, so should you desire the food which is God’s Word.” And the purpose is quite sensible: “that ye may grow thereby.”
In other words, by longing for, chewing on, and digesting the Scriptures instead of constantly mulling over how you’d like to get even with someone, you’ll actually grow in Christlikeness.
Christlikeness, after all, is a much more satisfying end than revenge.