How Is Your Spiritual Appetite?
“I bend my knees to the Father . . . to the end that he may grant you . . . to be made mighty in the man you are inside.”—Eph. 3:14-16.
1. What helps us to understand fully the subject of knowledge?
KNOWLEDGE is a vital Bible subject, and Jehovah has taken great pains in explaining all we must know about it in his Word. It being a spiritual subject, however, we would probably have had a hard time to understand what knowledge is and does, were it not possible to have it explained to us in the familiar terms of food, eating and drinking. In fact, physical food lends itself so excellently to explaining the secrets of knowledge that one might be inclined to ask if the Creator made us eat food just to help us understand better the far greater value of knowledge. Knowledge is often referred to as “spiritual food.”
2. What provisions has Jehovah made to satisfy man’s desire for food?
2 Jehovah God not only imbedded the natural instincts in man, but he also provided for their satisfaction. Thus when Adam was placed in the garden of Eden, he was told of the food provisions made for him. True, since the rebellion against God in Eden, famines have stricken mankind in general, but, except for some few specific cases related in the Bible, they were not from God. Faithful servants of Jehovah God never had to starve to death unless in isolated cases when Satan was permitted to bring a special test upon them to show him that he could not break the integrity of God’s witnesses, and thus Jehovah’s name was vindicated. King David testifies: “A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, and yet I have not seen anyone righteous forsaken, nor his offspring looking for bread.”—Gen. 1:29, 30; 2 Ki. 8:1; Ezek. 5:16, 17, AS; Ps. 145:15, 16; 37:25; Matt. 6:25, 26.
3, 4. How did Jehovah satisfy Adam’s desire for spiritual food?
3 The means to satisfy man’s inborn hunger for knowledge were equally provided by the Creator. There were plenty of questions for Adam to ask, and there was plenty of opportunity to satisfy his curiosity. Since he was to be a gardener, it was only natural that his first course was in botany. To find the food proper for him, he had to learn to analyze and identify plants and trees. Zoology was taught him when “every wild beast of the field and every flying creature of the heavens” were brought to Adam so that he could give each of them names.—Gen. 2:15, 19, 20.
4 Furthermore, the garden of Eden should be expanded to take in the whole earth; so geography was logically next, together with knowledge of the laws designed to govern a human society as mankind increased. And, above all, there was the subject of relations between man and his God, a course the heavenly Father himself would teach his earthly son. The storehouse of knowledge set before Adam was so great that even today science sees no danger of running out of the whys and wherefores.
5. What resemblance is there between food and knowledge as regards nutritional value?
5 As there is a variety of food, so there is of knowledge; and just as not all food has the same nutritional value for the body, so not all knowledge has the same nutritional value for the mind. In fact, some knowledge does more harm than good to a person, just as is the case with some foods.
6-8. As seen from the viewpoint of everlasting life (a) of what value is art? (b) of what value is science as food for the mind?
6 Confining ourselves to the part of knowledge that is often referred to as culture, it can roughly be divided into art, science and religion. Not all this knowledge is of equal value to us, because not all of it contributes toward eternal life from God.
7 As seen from that point of view, art knowledge is definitely the least valuable thing we could engage our brains in. It is like a stimulus. It has its time and place and it makes life sweet, but it does not give life and, if overindulged in, it will only do harm.
8 True science is more valuable than art as a spiritual food, because it will always lead to awe for the great Creator and build up faith, whereas pseudo science that cannot distinguish between facts and theories is one of the means by which “the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” If such knowledge is relied on, it is only harmful to a person, because it will ruin his faith.—2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Tim. 6:20.
9. Which spiritual food is indispensable for life eternal?
9 It is in the field of religion that we find the vital knowledge without which there is no everlasting life. “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth,” said Jesus, thus confining the source of life-giving knowledge and true religion to the Bible. Here is where we can get knowledge of Jehovah God and Christ Jesus, and that “means everlasting life.”—Matt. 4:4; John 17:3; Isa. 8:20, Dy.
10. Why should we take in spiritual food?
10 The purpose of taking in food is to build up a strong body and sustain it. The purpose of taking in the most important of spiritual foods, the knowledge of Jehovah God and his Son, Christ Jesus, by means of God’s Word, is to build up a strong faith and sustain it, because the Christian lives “by means of faith.” “On account of this I bend my knees to the Father,” Paul says, “ . . . to the end that he may grant you . . . to be made mighty in the man you are inside with power through his spirit, . . . that you may be rooted and established on the foundation.”—Rom. 1:17; Eph. 3:14-17.
REGULARITY MUST BE LEARNED
11. Why are regular and frequent meals not a burden?
11 Unlike hibernating animals, snakes and many insects, which can do without food for long periods of time, man was created to be busy every day and, therefore, to eat regularly and frequently. Many people must have at least three meals a day to keep physically fit. What a lot of meals that is in the course of just a normal life span, let alone an everlasting life! It almost sounds like a burden, but it is not. The healthy person finds every meal a break, a time of relaxation, of satisfaction and often of joyous companionship, and that was the way the Creator meant it to be. Otherwise, Jehovah could have given us pills to eat three times a day with the same effect on our bodies. Some scientists like to play with the idea that that is the way man will take in food in the future. But Jehovah did not arrange it that way. He wanted us to have all the pleasure and joy that go with normal meals every day.
12. Why is it even more important to be regular about spiritual meals?
12 Are regularity and repetition just as essential when it comes to spiritual food? Even more so. God’s Word and experience show that it was not intended for man to take in a lot of spiritual food at one time and then go without food for weeks or months. As lack of food weakens the body, so does lack of spiritual food weaken the faith or “inner man.” But whereas a weak body has no effect on God’s estimation of a person serving him, a weak faith can lead to loss of integrity toward God by one’s compromising or falling away from the faith entirely, and that ruins in God’s sight the right to eternal life; so spiritual undernourishment is much more dangerous than literal undernourishment. That is why Jehovah pronounces those happy who study his Word “day and night.” A burden? Not at all. There is no doubt that Jehovah had in mind to make the spiritual meals, necessary for man to live, just as much a time of relaxation, satisfaction and happy companionship to him as the normal meals are. If we have a normal spiritual appetite, that is the way we will feel about it.—Heb. 10:25; Ps. 1:2; Josh. 1:8; Deut. 6:7; Prov. 6:20-22.
13. What is one of the things by which to recognize a mature Christian?
13 Of course, regularity about normal meals has to be learned as we have to learn most things in life. Children are often too busy to remember the meal hours, but good parents train them till they acquire the habit of going to the table at regular hours each day. It is not that we always feel hungry at mealtime, but we are not reflecting on that; out of habit we automatically turn up for the meal, and, when there, we often find that the appetite grows as we eat. That same habit must be developed in regard to spiritual meals. Whether we actually feel hungry at the moment is beside the point. A mature Christian is one who has developed the habit of automatically turning his steps toward the Kingdom Hall or the private study room when it is time for a spiritual meal. If you are still too young as a Christian to have developed that habit fully, somebody should remind you of the meal hours. If you are just too busy to reflect properly on the necessity of developing regular eating habits, you have reason to thank God if there is somebody who takes enough interest in you to train you so that you can be made mighty enough to conquer and survive the world by the undeserved kindness of Jehovah.
14, 15. How does Satan try to starve God’s servants?
14 One of Satan’s most effective means of taking persons away from Jehovah’s influence and the strengthening effects of His spirit is to cut them off from the spiritual food, if possible. Some he lures to stay away from the spiritual food by materialism, sex, pride, fear of man or by appealing to their selfishness in other ways. They leave Jehovah’s richly provided table on their own account and they must take the responsibility for starving to death in front of a well-provided table. Their strength must vanish; their faith must suffer shipwreck.—Isa. 25:6; 65:13, 14; Matt. 24:45-51; 1 Tim. 1:19.
15 Other servants of God Satan forcibly deprives of the spiritual food in order to starve them to death by putting them in prisons and slave camps, so that they can be broken down spiritually and then be subjected to pressure and temptations for the purpose of making them break their loyalty toward Jehovah God.
16, 17. How does spiritual starvation affect a person, and what should we learn from that?
16 One of Jehovah’s witnesses who spent years in complete solitary confinement in Hitler’s Germany describes what takes place when a servant of God is starved spiritually: “In such a state the brain is the only organ that works, and how good it was for me that I had studied the Watchtower magazines well during the previous years and thus had been well prepared for the time of persecution through the study of the articles about Esther and Mordecai, fearlessness, Daniel in the lions’ den, the three men in the crucible, etc. During that state I worked out entire discourses, which I have, in fact, given in part many years after my release. However, when you are cut off from the spiritual food and there is no opportunity to exchange ideas with others, then gradually certain pictures and ideas disappear. After awhile Scripture texts and important truths, which you can only keep fresh by constant use, disappear entirely from your memory. At this state the reservoir is constantly diminished. A person with just a small supply who gets into a situation like that has used it up considerably faster. That has also been proved by experience. How many in that condition have not done every possible thing to get free again? and they were not prepared to go to prison a second time, which they could achieve only by compromising.”
17 All this teaches us clearly that, like normal food, spiritual food must be taken in regularly and frequently to keep a person in that frame of mind called faith, without which it is impossible to win Jehovah’s good pleasure. A Christian has his own kind of food; he is “nourished with the words of the faith.”—Heb. 11:6; 1 Tim. 4:6.
LOSS OF APPETITE
18. What are some causes for lack of appetite, and what should our reaction be?
18 In spite of man’s normal craving for food, a sick condition of the body can develop to the point that he feels no desire for it. He lacks appetite. Considering what food means to us, it is evident that lack of appetite is a menace to good health and a direct danger to our life, if not remedied soon. There can be a number of causes for loss of appetite: Poisoning of the system, nervous tension, lack of companionship, exercise or fresh air. Whatever the cause, something must be done about it. The person affected must take matters into his own hands, or, if he cannot do that, somebody else will have to do it. To let things stand that way could be fatal.
19. What are some causes for lack of spiritual appetite, and what can be done about it?
19 How is your spiritual appetite? Are you sound and healthy spiritually, and enjoying yourself as you eat, giving joy also to the heart of the great Provider of spiritual food? Is your good example stimulating everybody else’s spiritual appetite and adding to an atmosphere of contentment and well-being? Or did you eat something that poisoned you? If so, try the cleansing effects of having great portions of God’s Word passing through your mind. Or are you all tense with nervousness out of being overly anxious about the cares of this life? Why not let the great Teacher, Christ Jesus, put your mind straight? When the tension is gone, you will be hungry. Or is it companionship you lack, losing your appetite because of not being with others? Why do you not go and eat regularly with the rest of the family of Christian brothers at the Kingdom Hall? It will stimulate your appetite. Or is it exercise and fresh air you lack? Did you take the field service lightly during the last months? Whatever the cause for your lack of spiritual appetite may be, there is a cure for it. There is one thing you cannot afford to do, however, and that is to leave it the way it is. You definitely have to take matters into your own hands. To leave it that way will be disastrous. It is a matter of life and death.—Matt. 6:25-34.
20. Why are five meetings a week not too much?
20 Some brothers think they are mature, but they do not seem to be able to develop enough spiritual appetite or to discipline themselves to be at all the regular meetings. They are choosy as to which meetings to attend. Could it possibly be that we have too many meetings? Is it not enough for us just to pick some of them to attend regularly? Do not forget that at least eight hours a day you are exposed to the false propaganda of Satan’s world, designed to wash out of your brains every bit of nourishment for the spiritual life. So how could five hours a week in meetings be too much for the building up and sustaining of that state of mind called faith? There are degrees in faith. Some people have much, some have little faith. The same person can have more or less faith at different times, but it all depends on the spiritual food taken in first of all, and then also acts of faith performed by that person. Faith is compared to a shield “able to quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles.” In this age of missiles no Christian can afford to lower his shield for a moment by leaving out some meetings and taking in others according to his own choice. That is why we must be regular in attending all meetings arranged for true Christians and must also study privately. It is for our protection as well as for education, so that we can teach others and make them of strong faith too.—Eph. 6:16.
21. Why should inability to take keen interest in the subjects studied privately or at the meetings worry us?
21 Bear in mind, it is possible to come to the table and still not eat because of lack of appetite. You can also come to the meetings or be studying privately without really taking in anything. Some do that. They are at the meetings all right, but their minds are not active in taking in knowledge to feed on. They are absent-minded. They do not study in advance to dig into the subject discussed so as to take a share in the discussion. No building up is taking place. If that should happen to you with your natural appetite you would be worried. Why? Does it hurt? No, it is not that it hurts. You do not feel any hunger or urge to eat. That is all—in the beginning at least. Why worry about it then? It cuts the food bill anyhow! Oh, no. That is not the way you take it. Your thinking powers tell you that if this goes on it will be disastrous. So out of sound reasoning you force yourself to eat something, or to do something else about it; or you go to see a doctor, but you do not let it stand that way. Should you not reflect similarly on your spiritual health?
22. What should be done to overcome lack of spiritual appetite?
22 It happens that some people lose their appetite when they come to a warm climate. As any doctor will advise, all they can do then is to force themselves to eat whether they like it or not. Force the system to work with the food, assimilate it and gain the normal strength from it. It takes will power as long as the treatment lasts, but afterward they can relax and enjoy a good appetite. There is no forcing any more. In many cases this is what it takes for you to restore your spiritual appetite. A little will power, a little discipline, forcing your system to take in the knowledge, to assimilate it, make use of it, and after you have done that for awhile you can relax and just enjoy an excellent appetite. There will be no forcing any more.
23. Why do some fail to get the full value of the Watchtower study?
23 Some do not show much of a spiritual appetite at the Watchtower studies because they have not developed a sense for details. They expect more or less every Watchtower to bring a big new truth home to them, as was the case in the beginning when they came into the truth. It was easy to feed on God’s Word then. Every idea, almost every scripture, was new then, whereas now they are inclined to think that it is always the same old thing over again. Jesus told us why he was not going to supply us with new things and ideas all the time, and the reason was that we would not be able to assimilate it that fast. So it is good that not every Watchtower brings new light from Jehovah’s temple. We could not digest it that fast, but still there is food enough in every Watchtower to keep us well fed and alive spiritually. It all depends on how you look at it. If you train yourself to look for details, you will be amazed at what you can find in every Watchtower. Do you know the answers to such questions as, Why do we say the New World society was founded in 1919? When exactly was the foundation stone of the new world laid? Just who took away the old covenant and nailed it to the stake? These are some of the things you should be looking for, and if you know how to dig, you will get them out of every Watchtower article. What we need is constant disciplining of ourselves till we can work up our appetite for such details. If you can keep on asking the whys and wherefores you can keep up your spiritual appetite.
24. Why should we not despair if we suffer from lack of spiritual appetite, and what provisions has Jehovah made to make his servants invincible?
24 So cheer up if you feel you have lost your spiritual appetite. It is never so bad that it cannot be cured if you have the desire to get well. The very best time for you to learn how to work up an appetite is right now at this time in man’s history when Jehovah has provided so rich a table of spiritual food by making his Word understood to a degree that was never the case before. Today he is letting his “faithful and discreet slave” wait on all the domestics of God’s household and their good-will companions, “to give them their food at the proper time.” Do not just passively look at your personal inability to take in that special vital food for the time of the end and convert it into unconquerable strength, but do something about it! Exercise discipline for life.—Isa. 25:6; 55:1-3; 65:13, 14; John 6:35; Rev. 7-16; Matt 24:45.
25. How should accumulated energy be used?
25 The purpose of building up a strong body is for it to work and spend its energy. The Christian’s purpose in growing mighty in the “inner man” is to work in the service of his God. “Faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself.” (Jas. 2:17) See to it that you have a good spiritual appetite and satisfy it.
And Jehovah of armies will certainly make for all the peoples, in this mountain, a banquet of well-oiled dishes, a banquet of wine kept on the dregs, of well-oiled dishes filled with marrow, of wine kept on the dregs, filtered.—Isa. 25:6.