Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, “A son is born to you,” making him very glad. Let that man be like the cities that the LORD overthrew without pity; let him hear a cry in the morning and an alarm at noon, because he did not kill me in the womb; so my mother would have been my grave, and her womb forever great. Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame?
Jeremiah 20:14-18 ESV
Some cults based on this passage their erroneous teaching that birthdays should not be celebrated. But Jeremiah, in His depression, uttered these poetic words. From this passage, we can draw a lesson that depression is common to Christians (Elijah, Moses, etc), even to the servants of God.
In meditation, we must consider the context of the Scripture, lest we fall into the errors of other groups. We meditate upon God’s word so that we can clearly see what the text says and what it means according to what God intends.
Meditation is a spiritual exercise in which a godly person having a heart that is separated from the earth lifted up toward heaven reflects upon and engages his minds towards God… To be kindled with love, be comforted, and be stirred up to lively exercise.
He takes time to do it – designedly setting apart suitable portions of each day, that, withdrawn from the cares of life, he may refresh his spirit by contemplating divine truth, or may become better acquainted with God, and with his duty to him, and may bring to bear upon his own soul more directly the truths pertaining to eternal realities.
Here are some tips on how we should meditate upon God’s Word.
#1 Select a specific text (potential for meditation)
Here we must choose a certain portion that swells with meaty truth for our spiritual intake. For Luther, when we read the Scriptures, the chapters are the branches. In spotting a portion/verse for meditation, we must shake the branch that the fruit may fall. If we can’t find one, for now, shake harder or find another branch. We should find a portion that clearly reveals God, sin, redemption, heaven, or hell. Most of all, find a passage that points to Jesus.
#2 Discern its basic meaning
What does the text mean? Find other text that is related to it (near and remote references) that can help us understand the meaning of the text that we are meditating on. We can read the chapter again to see the context that we may have a greater understanding of the text. Pray, as we read so that the Spirit may grant us His illuminating grace to discern and see the meaning of the text. Perhaps you may consult a commentary to help us understand the text properly.
To meditate without understanding is meaningless. The way to the heart is through the head.
#3 Ask probing questions
We may ask the following questions: What does this passage tell me about God? What does this passage tell me about Jesus? What does this passage tell me about the Spirit? Is there a principle to live? A command to obey? A sin to repent of? A promise to embrace?
Meditation must always involve two persons: the Christian and the Spirit. We exert effort to discern the meaning of the text but we ask the Spirit that He may open our eyes to see the beauty of God’s word.
That is why meditation is not contemplation (random thoughts of God). Meditation is scheduled in order to engage in deep thinking (Psalm 145:5). Thinking deeply about God’s Word involves interrogating the text. It takes place with an open Bible, focusing on a specific portion of God’s Word.
#4 Apply it personally
We must place it within our mouths. We must eat and devour the fruit that we gathered.
Going back to our text in Jeremiah, how should we apply it to our lives? Here are some applications:
- If there is a depressed Christian, we should sympathize and not judge.
- Depression is not always caused by sin but brought about by God’s providence. Sin at times causes depression (Ahab to Naboth, 1 Kings 21). But be careful not to sin.
Meditation requires deep thinking. Gospel meditation is deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in the Scriptures for the purpose of understanding, application, and prayer (Donald Whitney)
We do not only interrogate the text but we also interrogate our own souls.
We must have honest and face-to-face dealings with our own souls during meditation. Ask honest questions. Turn deaf ear to any excuses.
#5 Commit it to memory
This is not optional. Meditation is filling our minds with God’s Word. Memorizing the text or even the outline of the points we learned during our meditation helps us to let the Words of Christ dwell in us richly. Spiritual growth requires effort.
The greatest hindrance to spiritual growth is laziness. Growth in grace is not cheap, not easy, and not without a cost. It should be our desire. It should lead to action.
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
Proverbs 13:4 ESV
To God be the glory!
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
Note: This post is based on our pastor’s sermon during our midweek service at Bella Vista Outreach.