The Training and the Practice of the Vital Groups, by Witness Lee


Our vital groups are not wild or reckless. We should be well regulated. If we are not well regulated, we can never be living and vital. If you ask a healthy person why he is healthy, he will tell you that it is because he takes care of the principles of life. A healthy person, for example, will not work at night but during the day. George Müller said that he would not even travel at night. He said that if you travel in the day, that is healthy; but if you travel in the night, that is unhealthy. To sleep at night from 10 P.M. to 6 A.M. is very healthy. But to sleep during the day is unhealthy. This is a life principle.

God made the heavens and the earth, and He also ordained the night and the day. The night is very important, so it came first. The evening and the morning are one day in Genesis 1 (v. 5). For your health, the night is important. If you take care of your night in a wise way, you will be healthy. Still there are a number of jobs in our society which require people to be on duty at night. We have to thank the nurses and the policemen who do their duty at night, sacrificing themselves for others. But according to the God-ordained principle, the night is for us to sleep, and the day is for our living and working.

Healthy people will tell you that they are regulated according to the principles of life. Each one of these principles regulates us. If we eat too fast, we will suffer. Neither should we eat too slow. That is not healthy eating. Healthy eating must be moderate, neither too fast nor too slow, in order to satisfy the inner feeling of our body. When we take care of the principles of life in the human realm, this makes us vital physically.

We are being trained to be vital. But in our concept, we think that to be vital is to be like Samson. Samson, however, was not vital. He did not live long. He even had to commit a kind of suicide by sacrificing himself in order to kill others (Judg. 16:30). On the other hand, Boaz was very vital. He was a regular person. In the past summer training, we pointed out that we cannot see anything of life in Judges. But the book of Ruth, a book of four chapters, is a book of life. I believe that if that book were written today, the writer could get a Nobel Prize. That is a marvelous short novel full of life. Boaz was a healthy person; he was vital. Some powerful Pentecostal preachers were immoral, and yet they were powerful. They were like Samson.

Do you want to be like Samson or like Boaz? We surely want to be like Boaz, a person who was regulated according to the life principles. He was a vital person. Who brought Christ to you? Samson is not in the lineage of Christ. But Boaz is a most important link in the lineage of Christ (Matt. 1:5). Christ could come to us because of Boaz. This is what it means to be vital.

When I was looking to the Lord for this message, the Lord impressed me, “Tell the saints who love Me and who want to be vital something about the narrow gate and the constricted way.” To be vital should not be a miracle. The trees do not grow in a miraculous way. We planted many small trees around the meeting hall in Anaheim seventeen years ago, but today they are all big. Their growth was according to the principles of life. God ordained these principles.

We are being trained in the God-ordained way revealed in the Bible. The God-ordained way is to have a living and a working which are always narrowed and constricted. The gate is narrow and the way is constricted which leads to life. But the gate is wide and the way is broad which leads to destruction. In the spiritual field, there is no broad way. The way in the spiritual field is always constricted. On this way our freedom is always restricted.

Every tree is restricted. If all the trees grew without restriction, that would be a calamity. But all the trees grow and spread in the way of constriction. The trees need the God-ordained constriction plus the human cutting, the human trimming. The trimming is human. The constriction is God-ordained. Even though the trees are constricted according to God’s ordination, they still need the human hands to trim them.

In the spiritual realm, we also need the trimming. A miracle is not mentioned in John 15 concerning the bearing of fruit, but trimming is strongly referred to by the Lord. Are you going to bring forth fruit? You need to be trimmed, pruned (v. 2). To be trimmed is to be constricted. We should not spread too much. We should not be wild but constricted.

We may wonder why we cannot see much bearing of fruit among us. The fruit of life does not come by means of a miracle. We need to see that the more we are constricted, the more we are regulated. The more we are regulated, the more we are healthy. Then we are ready to bear fruit. Fruit comes out of our health. A sick tree cannot bear fruit. Living things which are sick cannot produce. God’s ordination is for living things such as the trees to grow vitally. We Christians should also be growing vitally. To be vital means to be healthy. We need to be healthy and normal. We should not expect to get many persons saved. We should always be prepared to bear one remaining fruit a year. We should pray, “Lord, give me one fruit per year, remaining fruit, healthy fruit, fruit that is healthy just as I am.”

(The Training and the Practice of the Vital Groups, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)