Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (NIV)
In view of the previous verses, all that about how temporary life is and that God’s word endures forever, I should rid myself of all these evils. Malice can also be translated as wickedness – that really encompasses a lot. Perhaps, if I had a grudge against someone or was engaged in witchcraft this might be more meaningful to me. For now, I don’t relate.
Deceit seems to be lying or tricking someone to get something that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to have if I didn’t resort to it. Hmm, truth in advertizing – I’m opening new online stores so this is something I need to be careful about. I don’t want to deceive anyone about the products I’m selling or who I am or anything else. It is too easy to slip into this. Another thought in business is how to handle deductions for the business. I don’t want to fudge so I can classify things as business expenses when they aren’t. Yesterday a tax consultant said that I could write off my vacations if I took my laptop along and conducted my online business while on vacation. Come on now. I’m going to take hotel, and family meals as business expenses just because I take time on the vacation to make sure stuff is running correctly? It may be permissible but I wouldn’t have had those expenses if I were not on vacation. Sounds deceitful to me.
Hypocrisy is being two faced. Professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that I don’t hold. If I were to tell you how humble I am, that would be hypocrisy. If I told you I loved you and didn’t or that I believed in Jesus but didn’t, both would be hypocrisy. Jesus had a way of cutting to the heart of the matter in the religious realm of hypocrisy. Giving was a big thing. When the Pharisees blew trumpets to announce how much they were giving, not to honor God, but to get attentions for themselves, Jesus nailed them. When they kept their own rules and overrode God’s commands, Jesus got them on that because it was for their own glorification, not God’s. I can easily slip into writing this blog, not for my original purpose to dig into the Word, but to get people who read it to look up to me. Same with any ministry, I slowly stop doing it for the right reasons and for my own pride.
Envy is another matter. Too easy to envy what others have. How much of why I’m working is to have the things others have and how much is to use it for God’s glory? It is just too easy to slip over the line. It’s good for me to stop and think about this regularly.
I don’t want to slander or bad mouth people either. It isn’t my habit, but I know it is easy to judge and put someone down while sharing prayer needs or just talking about a “situation” with others who know about it. Lord, help from doing that, too.
If I’m not in the Word of God, accepting it like a new born baby, I can easily fall into all these things or never get out of them. Matt 18:3 "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (RSV) I hadn’t drawn this connection between pure spiritual mild and what Jesus told his disciples. To be a kingdom citizen, I need to accept His Word and even crave it just like a child. How else can I avoid and get rid of these things? 1 Cor 14:20 says that I should be mature in my thinking. It starts with correct thinking (Phil 4:8,9) that transforms me by renewing my mind (Rom 12:2.) The result is growth and maturity.
Peter’s command to crave pure spiritual milk is a starting place. Heb 5:11-14 About this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God's word. You need milk, not solid food; for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. (RSV) I need to keep on in the Word and not only going over the basics. I need to start there and keep them but I need to push on also. A key in this verse is, “trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.” Without training and practice, I’ll remain a baby and not be able to determine if that tax deduction is really right regardless of what the tax consultant or tax code says.
This is the way I can grow up in my salvation. Getting rid of the bad stuff by learning to determine what is good and bad by the Word of God.