THE WAY TO GROW
What is the best way, actually the only way, to help children grow? All the mothers know the best way is not to teach them, but to feed them. Feeding, not teaching, causes children to grow. This is why Paul said, "I fed you" (1 Cor. 3:2). How can we likewise perfect the saints? We should not merely teach them; we should feed them. Paul planted and Apollos watered (1 Cor. 3:6). To water the plant is simply to feed it. What the churches as the kingdom need for the perfecting of the saints is not teaching but feeding. As mothers know, little ones are perfected year after year by growth. Because of this growth they are able to do many things. But this does not mean that the children lacked the organs before the perfecting work began. It simply means they lacked the ability. This ability comes only by perfecting, and perfecting comes from the feeding which helps them grow. Such feeding is what all the churches as the kingdom need today.
After hearing some of my messages, a few people were offended and argued, saying, "You say that we don’t need teachings, gifts, or regulations. Don’t you think that the teachings are helpful? Are the gifts not needed? Don’t you think that some of the regulations are good?" My response is that it all depends on how you use them. These things are all right if they help people to grow, but the tragedy is that many Bible teachers help people only to know the Bible, not to grow. I know this from experience, because I was under the best Bible teaching for seven and a half years. During that period I did not have the slightest amount of growth in life as a result of that teaching. Many others have had the same experience. Perhaps, in some exceptional cases, Bible teachings helped people grow a little. However, they did not help very much. Everything depends on whether the teaching affords people the growth in life.
The same is true with the gifts. I was personally involved with them, especially with tongues. I am sorry to say that I did not witness the genuine growth in life among the people who spoke in tongues. I am not criticizing or despising, but I must be faithful and honest to speak the truth. Check with so many of the people who speak in tongues. Where is the growth? Today the churches as the kingdom of God need something to help them grow in life. If speaking in tongues can help the saints grow in life, I am for it. I myself dropped it because I found that it produced no growth. Speaking in tongues may stir up your heart and your spirit, but once you have been stirred up you must immediately turn to life. Otherwise, you will be hungry. Regardless of how much you exercise your gifts, you will remain hungry. Speaking in tongues will never feed you. You may say that it gives some satisfaction, but do you have the growth?
Even growth by itself is not adequate. The proper growth produces transformation, a genuine change in life, a metabolic change in your being. Transformation is the true proof of your growth. Following transformation comes the building. The real growth produces transformation, and transformation issues in the building. On the contrary, most people who speak in tongues are very independent. Thank the Lord if you have received help from speaking in tongues, but if you remain there you may become independent and individualistic.
I know these things from my experience. I was involved with them and saw them for myself. In the meetings held for the exercise of spiritual gifts, most people do not care for others; everyone cares for his own practice of the gifts. In their daily living as well, it is very difficult for tongues-speaking people to be one with others. Throughout the history of the church, no one has been more divisive than tongues-speaking people. Nearly every tongues-speaker is a division in himself. In spite of this, there is a kind of assurance among tongues-speaking people that, if all the believers will speak in tongues, all will be one. This is superstition. History proves the opposite. There is not the proper oneness among tongues-speaking people. What we need today is the proper growth which results in transformation and building. This will produce the real oneness.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)