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Take Up and Read to Feel

First Peter 2:2–3 lays on Christians a good and wise command from God. It is a  surprising command, and easy to overlook.

“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.” 1 Peter 2:2-3

In this verse God doesn’t command us to study his Word or obey his Word (although he certainly does this elsewhere in his Word), but instead to “long for” his Word. That’s right: Christians are commanded to intensely desire his Word.

Surprised by this command? You will be surprised if you think of reading Scripture as simply a duty regardless of how one feels. But this verse and this command clearly communicate that pleasing God involves not just the discipline of consistently reading his Word but a heart felt “longing” for his Word, intensely desiring his Word like a newborn desires milk.

In other words God, commands emotional obedience. Many are surprised by this command, unaware that God requires us to obey with our feelings. I once was.

In their soon-to-be-published book, True Feelings; God’s Grace and Glorious Purpose for our Emotions, my wife Carolyn and daughter Nicole effectively address our surprise in discovering that God commands our emotions when they write:

“In a sincere effort to honor God, many of us have assumed, ‘It doesn’t matter how you feel, you just need to obey.’ We’ve conceived of Christian duty mostly in terms of thoughts, words and actions, but not feelings. We have unwittingly bought into a common misconception that God doesn’t care how we feel; he cares only about what do in spite of what we feel. But we cannot please God, fulfill the great commandments, or grow in Christlikeness without emotions. Our feelings are essential to obeying God. Throughout the Bible, God tells us to obey with our emotions.”

Look for yourself in the Bible. Throughout his Word he commands us to obey with our emotions, just as he does in 1 Peter 2:2.

So, we need to ask ourselves: do we “long for” God’s word? Do we intensely desire Scripture? Was a passion for studying the Bible a phase we passed out of? Friends, if we don’t long for God’s Word, we will long for something less important.

And Peter isn’t done with us yet. He reminds us of our conversions, the time when we “tasted that the Lord is good.” God kindly commands us to long for his Word so that we will taste his goodness afresh. We are to long for his Word so that we might experience his goodness in the risen Christ of the cross as we read his Word. And given the kindness of God, this should not surprise us.

This post is adapted from a sermon I preached at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville entitled, “Take Up and Read to Feel.”