“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:14, NIV
Have you ever watched a cow chew cud? Cud is a portion of semi-degraded food that is returned from a cow’s stomach to be chewed for a second time. Cattle are ruminants, and have been equipped with a digestive system that allow otherwise indigestible foods (e.g. grass) to be regurgitated and chewed again as cud. The cud is then swallowed again and further digested by specialized microorganisms in the rumen, the first of four digestive compartments that Got put in a cow. The rumen holds up to fifty gallons of partially digested food.
As I was pondering this interesting fact this morning, I could not help but think about how milk, cud and meat can be related to the way that I study the Bible. When I first became a follower of Jesus, I had never really tried to read the Scriptures by myself before. I didn’t know that I needed the Holy Spirit to help me interpret what the Word of God said, so I had to rely on learning from priests and pastors who understood what it said. Learning by listening, or reading what others have “digested” is called living on milk according to the Bible. Spiritual milk can sustain you and help you for a while, but if that is the only spiritual food that you eat you will not mature.
When I became a true believer, I instantly had a supernatural hunger to read God’s Word for myself. I fell in love with God, and I wanted to know everything about Him. As I dug into the Bible I realized that I could readily understand some of it, but most of it still did not make a lot of sense to me. I still needed daily glasses of spiritual milk. The Holy Spirit also put a strong desire to join a Bible study within me. I have found weekly Bible studies to be a wonderful place to learn with others who are at different stages in their spiritual growth. These brothers and sisters in the Lord taught me that it is O.K. to acknowledge that I did not understand something, and to ask God, and more mature believers for help. The Bible says that, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5, NIV)
I do not want to give you the impression that I consider myself to be mature. I still like milk, but I try to eat more cud and meat. I enjoy digging into the Word and biting off large chunks of biblical meat, but I am still a spiritual ruminant. It takes several passes from my rumen to mouth before I’m ready to fully digest the truths contained in the Scriptures that I have studied. Sermons and devotionals are excellent, but if we want to grow, we have to go to the Source. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV) The Word is alive and waiting to be devoured by God’s children. Are we ready to trade in our milk for meat?