It's funny the things you remember from your childhood -- often it's not the big events that stick in your memory, but the small, silly little things. I remember breakfast time. Specifically, I remember the Battle of the Toast.
You see, every morning my mom would toast up and butter a big old stack of toast and put it on the breakfast table. Right in the middle of the table. I had two older brothers, and the Battle of the Toast was a war to see who would get the most toast for breakfast. It was a silly thing; none of us needed more than a couple slices of toast with jam or peanut butter, but none of us ever thought about what we needed, or even what we wanted. Instead we only thought about what "the other guy" was getting. And our desires were defined by what "the other guy" had. Thus, if my brother ate four pieces of toast, then I just had to have four pieces of toast. Didn't matter if I was already full; I had to keep up.
Eventually, Mom put a stop to the Battle of the Toast by carefully counting out how many slices of bread she toasted, and limiting us to two slices apiece. Seems kind of silly now, doesn't it?
But this is the cost of envy -- the cost of looking at the other person and comparing what I have to what they have. I stop thinking about what is good (or even what is healthy) and I just have to have what they have. It makes no difference if I need it, makes no difference if it is good for me. I want it.
Just like Peter tells us to put aside deceit, malice, hypocrisy, and slander, he also tells us (1 Peter 2:1) to put aside envy. Envy is the mentality behind the Battle of the Toast -- it is the desire for what someone else has. And we will never be healthy as long as we measure our life and our possessions in comparison to what someone else has.
A couple years ago I had my cholesterol level checked, and my doctor told me "Your cholesterol level is way too high." We talked about what I was going to do about it, and I told him I wasn't interested in taking any medications to lower my cholesterol. I wanted to do the "all natural" approach, even though I knew it would be much harder.
So I changed my habits. I changed the amount of exercise I do, and made significant changes in my diet. Now I eat far less fast food, far less fatty foods than I used to. And the good news is that, in the last two years, my cholesterol has dropped 27 points. I still have a little way to go, but that's definite progress.
Changing my diet has really changed the way that I "taste" food. I used to love really greasy foods. Now, however, after being careful to avoid greasy foods, my appetite has changed. If I have a pepperoni pizza, I find myself thinking "Wow! This tastes really greasy!" It's not that pizzas are any more greasy now than they were two years ago; it's just that my appetites have changed because of the kinds of foods I put into my system.
This change of appetite can happen spiritually as well:
Just as my physical appetites have changed from fatty foods to more healthy foods, our spiritual appetites can change as well. We are supposedto have an appetite for the Word of God, just like a little baby has an appetite for their mother's milk.
Unfortunately, our appetite changeswhen we start tasting of other things which aren't as healthy. What are some of the spiritual "fatty foods" that are unhealthy, and change our appetite away from God's healthy food?
Malice. Deceit. Hypocrisy. Envy. Slander. When we indulge these unhealthy spiritual appetites, it destroys our appetite for God's word, and ultimately means that we will never grow up spiritually.
So Peter says: "Put these things aside!" As long as you let any of these things into your spiritual diet, you will never be healthy, and you will never grow to maturity.