It was well known that the late U.S. President George H.W. Bush hated broccoli. He supposedly mentioned the fact at least 70 times while in public office. He even banned it from Air Force One’s kitchen, telling reporters, “My mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!”
Probably each of us has memories of being made to eat our veggies when we were growing up, or of trying to get our children to do so. It may have been peas or corn or beans or brussel sprouts or spinach or broccoli. We were motivated by, “You need to eat your vegetables in order to grow up healthy.” Some of us, like President Bush, may have learned to hate certain foods as a result. Some may even suffer from lachanophobia, an irrational fear of vegetables. Hey, don’t laugh. It is a real thing. People who suffer from lachanophobia experience real symptoms at the mere sight of broccoli or bell peppers, or….ranging from nausea to shortness of breath.
We’ve all been encouraged to eat healthy in order to grow healthy. The same is true of spiritual growth. From the time of our new birth we are to “Long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (I Pet. 2:2). Then we are to continue our spiritual growth by getting into the “meat of the Word,” not just trying to survive on “milk.” Apparently the believers addressed in the book of Hebrews had that problem. The author writes this to them: “Concerning Him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore, leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity…” (Heb. 5:11-6:1a).
Unfortunately, for many Christians, developing healthy spiritual diets can feel like being forced to eat broccoli. Maybe as a child you had to sit through “family devotions” and don’t want to put your children through that and you even have trouble making room in your schedule for your own personal time in the Word. You try to get by on “snack food.” Reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on God’s Word takes discipline. It is hard work–but oh, so rewarding, and helps us stay spiritually healthy and keeps us growing. Paul’s challenge to young Timothy was: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). As we get into the Word and the Word gets into us, our minds are being renewed (Ro. 12:2) and our lives are being transformed–we are growing spiritually. through the Word of God and the Spirit of God we are being conformed to the image of Christ (Ro. 8:29). “Little by little every day, little by little in every way, Jesus is changing me. Since I made a turn-about-face, I’ve been growing in His Grace, Jesus is changing me.” Change comes through the discipline involved in submitting to the Spirit’s work in us to transform us. But, the Spirit primarily works through using the things we are learning from God’s Word. That’s why Paul writes: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…” (Col. 3:16).
So, just as our physical diet (plus exercise) helps determine our physical health and well-being, so our spiritual diet (plus exercise–putting God’s Word into practice) helps determine our spiritual health and growth. And, the treasures and truths of God’s Word are far better than broccoli! Jeremiah writes: “Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart…” (Jer. 15:16). David says this about the Scriptures: “They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psa. 19:10,11).
Stay in the Word–be healthy–keep growing.