May I share a verse I read in my quiet time recently?
What got my attention was the fourth word, "crave." I looked it up in my WordSearch Bible and discovered it is a compound Greek word--the normal word for "desire" plus the intensifier, "epi." Thus, the sense is "really desire a lot." The translation, "crave" seemed pretty accurate. I wondered about myself as I read. To what degree do I crave God in the way that a newborn craves milk?
I find myself craving Krispy Kreme donuts at times. I crave a nap after an early flight out. I miss my kids after an extended trip and long to see them. But, crave God? Crave the Word of God? Crave to live on the path that God has for me? I think I get to "willing" at times. Crave is a higher level. I think this needs to be a growth area for me.
I remembered in other places milk is associated with Christian teaching, and rather basic Christian teaching. Even babies can crave. "I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready." 1 Cor. 3:2 (NIV)
I thought of much of the teaching I have heard about prayer and Bible reading and quiet times. Teaching peppered with words like discipline and self-control. It occurred to me that if I could learn what babies know, to crave spiritual milk, that the discipline might take care of itself. How different living by craving is from living by discipline.
Not that there is not a place for discipline. Peter will later write, "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness. . . self-control." 2 Peter 1:5-6 (NIV) There is a place for discipline, but a higher place for craving. When I crave right, discipline is no longer needed. Discipline is like a spare tire. If you need it, you need it and there is no shame in using a spare tire. Far better, however, if you never have to use it. Far better to live by craving than by discipline.
I was reminded of a discovery I made this summer while doing a study on the attributes of God. I was preparing a series on The God We Enjoy. I knew that God was omnipresent and omniscient and omnipotent. I had never thought about the fact that God is attractive. I don't know that I have ever heard a teaching on the attractiveness of God. He is magnetic. He is charming. He is charismatic. He is engaging. He is fascinating. He is inviting. He is mesmerizing.
Consider what these verses teach about the beauty of God:
Consider the words of the hymn writer:
Do these sound like the words of mere discipline to you, or can you hear the heartbeat of one who craves? In more recent times, the words of Twila Paris:
Or, the words of Keith Green:
How different this is from words of discipline and self-control. How different this is from words of ought to and should do.
Do you find God attractive? I know that you know He is powerful and good and merciful and righteous. But, do you find God attractive? If not, I have two words of advice for you:
I heard John Ortberg say recently that every now and then we ought to do a sermon where we don't ask people to do anything except think about how great God is. I would invite you to think about how great God is. He is beautiful. Crave the pure spiritual milk.
Other verses where the Greek word epipotheo is used: (courtesy WordSearch Bible)
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong-- Romans 1:11 (NIV)