Today's verses provide a simple yet vitally important message to spiritual children of all ages. The contrast is memorable and the language is strong. Peter says ″rid yourselves″ (1 Peter 2:1) of evil that does not belong in God's children. At the same time, learn to ″crave″ (v. 2)-with the desperate appetite of a newborn baby-what is pure and wholesome (see Psalm 34:8). It's a simple message that, if heeded, will transform our lives.
We are to grow in our distaste for traits we may have been tolerating for many years.
Five harmful traits are identified for us to eliminate from our lives (v. 1). It would be well worth pausing after each word in order to detect traces of them in our hearts, minds, wills, or actions.
First, ″malice″ can mean ill will, wickedness, badness, depravity, or evil. As confronting as this might be, are there any parts of your life that God brings to your conscience?
Second, ″deceit″, or guile, refers to deceiving others with an impression that is not genuine. Selfish motives or critical judgments of others are things we tend to cover up with deceit. Removing deceit makes us more trustworthy.
Third, ″hypocrisy″ refers similarly to having a double life or second face-when the public self and the true self are not one. Jesus' instruction for overcoming hypocrisy is to live before an audience of One-that is, our Father in heaven, who sees what we do in secret as well as in public (see Matthew 6:1-18).
Fourth, ″envy″ is the awful response of jealousy or resentment towards others. If we are not content with what we have, and if we do not love others enough to rejoice at their prosperity, miserable envy follows. Envy leads us to despise those who have what we want, exposing our lack of love. Who are the people you envy? Could you thank God now for them instead?
Fifth, Peter wants us to work on eliminating all false or evil speech, including ″slander″, which is to defame or speak untruthfully against someone.
We are to grow in our distaste for traits we may have been tolerating for many years. What was perhaps sweet in the past takes on a bitterness now, and we begin to develop a different appetite. We might find ourselves speaking of some topics less, and other topics more, and all with a new, gracious tone.
Let's imitate the desperate newborn baby (1 Peter 2:2). Our new milk is God's Word (see 1:23, 25), which nourishes our new and imperishable lives.