Spiritual Eating Habits
We have all heard it said. Maybe we have even said it ourselves. That sermon really fed me,” or, “I. certainly got fed at that Bible study.” And how does that classic hymn go? “Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.…”
Many, if not most believers, are blessed by the quick accessibility of sound biblical teaching, and we should be ever grateful for that. Yet a curious problem has developed. Despite the abundant availability of spiritual food, a number of God’s children are suffering—not from undernourishment but from malnutrition. This is understandable, for even the best diets can work to the body’s detriment if the body is not doing anything with the food.
Good nutrition is more than what you eat. It is also a matter of what you do with what you eat. Presuming we are digesting a proper diet, we need to ask ourselves, “All right, am I exercising in order to turn all this good meat into muscle? Or am I merely indulging a spiritual sweet tooth and growing fat?”
Sad to say, some believers are so preoccupied with devouring everything on the spiritual menu that they forget what kind of dining establishment they have entered. As followers of Yeshua we are not in an automat where we serve ourselves, nor are we in a gourmet restaurant where everything is delivered to us on silver platters. Rather, we have taken a table in a “serve one another” establishment. Each of us is expected to take time out amidst mouthfuls to see if the others nearby have gotten enough to eat.
Jesus set the example himself. At his final meal, a Passover seder, he rose from the table to wash his disciples’ feet. No doubt the others were shocked to see the Master serving them, But Jesus explained, “Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am. If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:13-14). The example was given to them, and the example is given to us. We are expected to serve.
Following Yeshua entails more than sitting passively, at the banquet table, expecting to be fed. Following Yeshua means to follow his example of rising from the table and kneeling to serve others. Yet how often are we content to act like little children at a party, always clamoring for more cake and ice cream, with no thought in our minds as to whether or not everyone else has received an initial serving?
God is patient. But there comes a time when he expects us to share the nourishment we have received.
“Share?” we balk. “No, this food is mine!”
“Share it with others,” he tells us. “Freely ye have received, freely give.”
“All right,” we concede. “Tell the others they can come over to my place and I’ll be happy to share what I have with them.”
That’s not quite the way. Jesus tells us, “Go…and teach all nations.”
“Go?” we cry. “But I might miss a meal! I won’t get fed!”
We should know that we will not miss a meal. We will be fed. He tells us, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples on the shore. “Come and dine,” he beckoned (John 21:12). After they had eaten, Jesus asked Simon Peter if he loved him. Peter answered that he did. [Then] “feed my sheep,” Jesus told him. The example was given to Peter, and the example is given to us.
God has met us on the shore. “Come and dine,” he has called to us. May we always sit at his table with grateful hearts for the veritable feast he has set before us. May we never show the slightest reluctance in coming to the banquet to eat. But as we approach the table, let us remember that others are hungry, too. Epicureans eat to get fat and self-satisfied. Servants eat in order to be fit for service. Through self-indulgence, we do the Body little good. Through service, we develop strength to make the Body useful.
Avi Snyder is a veteran missionary and director of the European work of Jews for Jesus. He pioneered Jews for Jesus’ ministry in the former Soviet Union, before launching works in both Germany and Hungary. He will share with you what is happening in Jewish evangelism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Avi received his theological training at Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Ruth, have three grown children, Leah, Joel and Liz.