KNOWING HOW AND BEING ABLE TO FEED OTHERS
The main point in this chapter is the word feed. To feed is not to teach. We need something with which we can feed others, and we need to know the way to feed others. First, we have to take care of some spiritual children, either some young believers, some new converts, or some unbelievers. Then we have to learn the lesson to prepare something to feed them with, and we have to learn the way to feed them.
It is not my intention merely to give some messages. Rather, this is a training. It is not enough to listen to these matters without practicing them. I beg you to put all these things into practice. From now on, try to pick up a few spiritual children, and learn to feed them. Then you will see your shortage. Mothers learn by feeding their children. Whether someone knows the way of life and how to feed on the Lord Jesus will be tested by his feeding of others. Suppose that today we gain three spiritual children. We may not know how to feed them. We may say, “I have nothing to feed them.” Then we will see that we are short of feeding. What we feed others must be the thing that we have taken in and digested, just as mothers feed their children with the things they have taken in and digested. This is not to teach but to feed.
I like the word feed. The Lord Jesus did not say, “Take care of My lambs”; He said, “Feed My lambs.” Someone may say, “Now I am taking care of some young believers.” However, to take care is one thing, but to feed is another. Some brothers truly love the Lord and love others, and they take care of others. However, they take care of them without feeding them. If a new, young convert loses his job, a brother may help him to get another job. This is to take care of him, but there may be no feeding. To feed people is more than to take care of them. It is a matter of life. We have to feed on the Lord ourselves; then we will digest something of the Lord and will have something from within with which we can feed others. To feed others is a matter of life, just as for mothers to feed their children is a matter of life, not of knowledge or anything else. This is why the account in John 21 is not recorded in chapters 17, 15, or 12. Even by chapter 12 Peter was not qualified. He was too short of life. Feeding others requires a certain amount of life.
We all have to pay attention to this matter. If the church life is proper and normal, we all will take care of some spiritual children and continually feed them. I say again, if we try to practice in this way, we will discover our shortages. We will see that we are short of many spiritual experiences. If you make the decision to feed two or three spiritual children, after only two weeks you will discover your shortages; you will see what you are lacking. Then you will seek the Lord in a proper way that you may learn how to feed on the Lord and how to feed others.
FEEDING OTHERS CAUSING
OUR OWN PROBLEMS TO BE SOLVED
This is a matter of feeding, not merely a matter of teaching. If we expect the church and the saints to grow unto maturity, we all must learn the lesson to take care of some spiritual children and feed them all the time. Otherwise, there will be no real growth among us. We should not simply meet here year after year, not increasing by caring for spiritual children. The increase of the church must be in the way of taking care of the “young goats.” If we do this, we will be right and balanced, and this will solve many problems.
It is too easy for young sisters and brothers who have no family and children to go to one another to “talk,” that is, to gossip, under the good pretense of fellowshipping in the Lord. This is actually fellowshipping in the way of gossiping. In the past I saw this too much. I tried my best in certain local churches to help these saints not to contact each other in this way. I even gave messages telling them, “If you are going to visit a brother, you first have to pray. You have to consecrate yourself to the Lord and seek the Lord’s guidance, and you need to have the anointing within. Otherwise, you should not go.” Even though I gave strong messages about this, they did not have much effect. The young ones still had the stirring within them to gossip. This went on until those persons were married. Marriage is truly a bondage. The best way to be bound is to marry. After one year, one child came, and after two or three years, more children came. Then these sisters could no longer contact others to gossip. With three children, they did not have time even to sleep. When I saw this, I said, “Praise the Lord. Those children are better than my messages.” If we have spiritual children, we will have only responsibility, not gossip. We will not have enough time even to sleep. Everything will be exhausted by those children. This is good; praise the Lord for this!
In these few days I have exercised in my spirit to seek the Lord concerning what to speak in these messages. The Lord gave me the answer: “Tell them to have spiritual children. Then all their problems will be solved. The best way to solve their problems is to help them to have spiritual children. Then they will learn the lessons, and they will be able to avoid many negative things.”
In some parts of this country, people do not like to have children, because children are naughty and noisy. However, if you are going to choose a neighborhood to live in, do not choose one that has no children. People who insist on not having children are the hardest people to deal with. They often come to complain that you play the piano too loud or that your radio is on too high. I would rather live with people who have many children. Then they can play their piano, and I can sing my hymn. They can march, and I can jump, and no one will complain. The way to solve the brothers’ and sisters’ problems is to help them to have spiritual children. All those who seek the Lord without feeding others are the ones who create problems. If someone is indifferent, the church can easily deal with him, but the more someone is seeking without feeding others, the more problems he creates. The right way for people to solve their problems is to have spiritual children. Then they will know where they are, and they will know what responsibility is. Moreover, they will know what the real growth in life and the experience of life are.
FEEDING OTHERS HELPING THE CHURCH
TO GROW IN LIFE AND BE BUILT UP
In this chapter I have only one burden, that is, to convince you that you need to feed others. Then you will see where you are and what you need. What you need is not a matter of knowledge, teaching, or anything else. What you need is the real experience of life, the real way to know how to feed on the Lord Jesus and experience something of Him. Then you also will know what other people need, and you will know what you have to minister to others, what you have to feed others with. Then you will be humbled, you will be calmed down, and you will become sympathetic with others who bear responsibility. This will help the church very much to grow and to be built up. I beg you to put this into practice. We truly need to pray for this. Let us all take the burden, the responsibility, not only to help others but to feed others, to feed some spiritual children. This truly involves growth and even maturity.
(Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)