[This tract by W. S. Hottel was published by the Union Gospel Press. No date]
The Necessity of Feeding on the Word
Dr. W. S. Hottel
"But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:42).
THESE WORDS in praise of Mary were spoken to Martha by the Lord Jesus, because she "also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word" (Luke 10:39). In these words the Lord stressed the necessity of feeding on the Word, in His clear and definite declaration, "But one thing is needful." He obviously had reference to Mary hearing His Word.
This manifestly was a seemingly narrow declaration concerning pleasing Him. Heshowed Martha that it was only as she held communion with Him by drinking in His Word, that she could really please Him. He let her know He was not pleased with her service for Him, because she had no time for communion with Him. If she would please Him, she must permit Him to serve her with spiritual food. Our Lord Jesus Christ in this simple incident clearly stressed the importance of receiving His Word. For the Christian it is the supreme necessity. We must feed on the Word of God if we would be wise and vigorous in serving the Lord.
In this connection we are reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus to the tempter, when He said to him, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4).
It is very clear that the Lord recognized the spiritual need of man, as well as the physical and temporal. He does not say man can get to the place where he does not need bread, but He sounds a distinct note of warning against spiritual neglect of the Word of the Lord. Bread alone will not do to live by; we need the "word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." That is to say, we need to feed on the Word of God.
How can we be spiritually vigorous if we do not feed on God's Word? It is impossible. Will the physical frame keep well and strong, and work hard without masticated, digested, and assimilated food? Certainly not! No one would question this, and so no more can the spiritual life be vigorous and strong without masticated, digested, and assimilated spiritual food. We hope to be understood; we do not wish to be arbitrary or peculiar; but we must speak truly. Beloved, the mere reading of the Scriptures will not feed your spiritual life, although if this is neglected, grave perils are soon manifested. The believer who reads a number of verses of Scripture and then rushes on with his work, is in danger of becoming a chronic invalid—spiritually. The believer needs to search the Scriptures, meditate on them and feast on them to assure divine light and power.
We must daily feed our inner man, and to do this we must gather food and eat it. A meditation here and there will not do. We must feed on God's Word, if we would be healthy, strong, and vigorous. We must do as the prophet of old did: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts" (Jer. 15:16). An intelligent verbal knowledge of the Scriptures will not do. This is not much better than writing an essay on bread, in which a description of its ingredients and baking is given. We must meditate upon the Word, we must masticate it, we must digest it and assimilate it. We must "mix" faith with the Word when we read it or hear it taught and preached, just as we mix saliva with our food when we masticate it (Heb. 4:2).
The Word must be digested. This takes time and a Godly appetite for divine things. Lack of delight in the Word hinders digestion. Food, to be easily and well digested, must be enjoyed. The appetite must be keen and normal. Worry and care hinder digestion. A morbid spirit, discouragement and depression hinder digestion. We must learn to cast our care upon the Lord and to rejoice in Him, if we would really digest the Word of God. Yes, we must seek to enjoy the Word.
Added to all this we need the working of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit caused the Word of God to be written years ago and He lives to apply, to interpret, to teach and to make real with living power the written Word. We may read and study, we may use the best helps and hear the best preaching and teaching, and yet, the force of Scripture is not realized unless the Holy Spirit applies it. We need to be taught of God. We must behold with spiritual eyes—eyes opened by the Lord.
Oh, the joy of realty in the things of God as revealed in the Word! When we get beyond the mere historical, the mere intellectual, the Word shines brilliantly before our gazing eyes. Then we will have spiritual fellowship, strength, accuracy, and activity, and we will grow in likeness to our blessed Lord and wait for His soon Coming with glad hearts.