Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

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There is no one passage that tells us all the things necessary for our growth. From the New Testament teaching and revelation, the way to grow is comprised of four main items. If we practice these, then not only are we in life but we are on the way of growth, and we also will know how to help others to grow. In Matthew 13 we are first told that after the seed is sown, the enemy, signified by the birds in the air, comes to snatch it away. Then even with the seed that is not snatched away, the seed that remains, there is no growth because the heart is superficial, shallow; there is the stony condition beneath the ground. This means that apparently someone receives the word, but in actuality there is no depth in his heart. In the third kind of earth the seed begins to grow, but it cannot grow up because it is choked by the cares of this age, the anxiety of life, the deceitfulness of riches, and the matter of living; that is, it is choked by the world.

If we spend time to study these cases, we can see that the lack of growth is due to one thing: After a person is saved by the divine seed sown into him, he may not love the Lord. If we study our history and compare it with the New Testament, we will find that the first step, the first main thing needed, for a believer to grow is to love the Lord. If we do not have a love for the Lord, we are superficial; our heart is either stony or things other than the Lord Himself choke the seed in it. We need a love for the Lord.

Faith comes first; then love must follow. Paul said that “the grace of our Lord superabounded with faith and love in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:14). Faith alone does not work. Having faith without love is like walking on one foot. We can walk a little bit on one foot, but we cannot walk all day like that; we need two feet. Love must come to accompany faith. We should read the whole Gospel of John. It tells us that the Lord Jesus only demands that we first believe in Him and then love Him. The last story in this Gospel is a story of love. After twenty chapters of John there is chapter twenty-one, which contains only one story. The Lord Jesus appeals to Peter, saying, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” (vv. 15-17).

I say again, if we do not have love for the Lord, our heart will be either full of stones or choked by many things. There is no other way besides love. If we want the Lord to grow within us, our heart has to be dug. With what can our heart be dug? Do not think it is by something that seems prevailing; rather, it is by one thing—love. In my whole Christian life I never saw one person whose heart was dealt with by the Lord before he loved the Lord. No one and nothing can take away the hidden stones in our heart. This requires a love toward the Lord. If we do not love the Lord, it is very hard for any of us not to be choked. The enemy is subtle and skillful. He is waiting to utilize everything to choke the seed in our heart. Do not think there are only one or two items that can choke the seed; everything can be utilized by the enemy. There is only one way to escape the choking of the enemy; that is to love the Lord.

If we simply pray, “Lord, be merciful to me. Grant me a love for You,” our stony heart will be dealt with. It will be dug and made deep. There will be a digging within not by anything else, but by love. In order to grow, we must go to the Lord to pray definitely and purposely that He will grant us a love for Him. I know one person who prayed this one thing for a long time, day by day, that is, that the Lord would grant him this love. I believe and I can testify that if we pray in this way, one day the Lord will reveal this love to us. This is not a matter of doctrine; it is a matter of inspiration. We can talk about the love of the Lord, but we still may not truly have the sense, the consciousness, of it. One day, however, when the Holy Spirit reveals the love of Christ to us, we will have the tender consciousness, the sense, of the love of the Lord. Then this love will do much work to get rid of all the stones within us. It is this love that is so capable of delivering us from all the choking elements. The more we try, exercise, and endeavor by ourselves to overcome all the things that choke, the more we will be defeated. The only thing that can deliver us from any kind of choking is love. Therefore, we must learn to pray that the Lord would grant us such a love.

(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)