by Mike Ratliff
8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Joshua 1:8 (NASB)
To most believers the word “meditation” smacks of Eastern Mysticism or some sort of New Age mumbo jumbo. However, God calls for His people to not only pray and read His Word, but also to meditate on it day and night. There is the right way to do this, which is God’s way, as well as the wrong way, which is the way the false religions teach their adherents. Let’s look at God’s way.
The purpose of meditating on scripture is to soak our hearts in God’s Word. Why is this important? How do we normally expose our hearts to God’s Word? We read it and we hear it in sermons and from Bible teachers. We also expose our hearts to it when we apply it to our lives. The purpose of soaking our hearts in God’s Word is to write His wisdom there. Our pursuit of God’s wisdom is actually in response to the Lord’s drawing us to do so. When we obey His call to seek His wisdom, He does answer.
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (NASB)
When we cooperate with God in our sanctification, we are actually responding to His call for us to develop our personal holiness. Disciples who are committed to their personal holiness will have had their perception of God altered. The Spirit-led believer’s God is beyond comprehension in His holiness, power, justice, love, and grace. Because of this, they are also committed to living entirely for His glory. They know that they must decrease while the Lord increases. (John 3:23-36) This means that priorities are submitted to the will of God. They fast from the things their flesh demands while feasting on the glory of God. Worship of their Lord is on the top of their list of priorities. They understand that Jesus is coming back and they must be prepared.
1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 (NASB)
How does the Spirit-led believer know this as they respond in obedience? They mediate on the Word of God; the Holy Spirit interprets it to their hearts as He writes it there. Their personal holiness grows in both depth and breadth.
15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws upon their heart,
And on their mind I will write them,”
He then says,
17 “And their sins and their lawless deeds
I will remember no more.”
18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.
19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:15-22 (NASB)
The believers who grow in grace and become those who have clean and pure consciences and are pure and holy before the Lord. They have attained this by the grace of God as they cooperated with Him by meditating on His Word and obeying Him in their walk by faith.
We have seen the purpose of mediation, but how do we do it? It starts with reading it. We must spend time reading God’s word. Daily Bible reading is great, but it cannot stop there. Unless we mediate on it, we are simply becoming familiar with it. How do we do as God says in meditating on it day and night? Do you know how to worry? Worry is that activity where we allow an issue to take over our entire consciousness. Worry can be destructive if we allow it to consume us. However, if we take that same sort of attention and direct towards God’s Word then we are meditating.
The first thing we must do when we read a passage from God’s Word is ask the question, “What does this teach me about God?” Why is this important? The more knowledgeable we are of God, the more intimate we will be with Him. In addition, the more we know God, the more we will have the proper attitude towards Him. A right relationship with God will always lead to more fear of Him. The proper Fear of God will lead to righteous behavior by His grace.
13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NASB)
With a right attitude towards God, we must ask what the passage we are studying tells us about proper living. Proper living before God comes from our fear of Him. When we submit to our Lord this way, we fear Him yet paradoxically, we also love Him even more. I have never seen a deeply devoted disciple who did not also have a deep and abiding love for God. Proper living before the Lord is Christlike behavior. When a disciple has the pure worshipping heart God desires for them to have He will guide them into the Christian behavior that He blesses. This wisdom and knowledge to live this way comes via that deep mediation on God’s Word. What will this behavior look like?
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9-21 (NASB)
There is no way we can develop these Christlike traits in our hearts by willing them to be there. God must develop this in us by granting us repentance as we submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the areas of our lives brought to light by meditating on God’s Word. Is this starting to fit together for you? Meditation is our wisdom as we draw closer and closer to our Lord. As God writes His wisdom on our mediating hearts, we will be applying that wisdom to our lives right away. What sense would it make that God would do this for us if we refuse to heed it? He will not unless we are also actively pursuing personal holiness in the midst of our sanctification.
When believers actively are being sanctified by God in their spiritual growth, mediation will be a key component of the process because it actually is the catalyst that God uses to write His word in their hearts. As these believers walk by faith they are actually living out God’s living Word in their lives. They are actually living out the following passage.
16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16 (NASB)
How do we get started? If you desire a deeper relationship with God then praise God because He put that desire in you. We must respond to this calling by fasting from those things that take time away from devotion to Him. Sorry, but unless we can carve time out of our day to give to God we will not do it. We must make that sacrifice by giving Him our time. This makes us living sacrifices. (Romans 12:1) Then we must replace the distractions we do have control over with prayer, worship, and mediation. I cut out TV, secular music and religious devotion to sports. I replaced those with Bible study, doctrinal studies, worship, prayer, meditation, and writing. I do not miss any of it. Am I as mature as I can be? Absolutely not! I believe I am maturing, but that will continue as long as I live. I have no idea how long that will be, but I have made up my mind to live the surrendered life in complete submission to my Lord. I highly recommend it!
Soli Deo Gloria!