When you hear the word meditation what do you immediately think of? A fat little bald man? How about peaceful monks sitting Indian style humming and focusing their minds? Meditation is something that is commonly misunderstood in the Christian world and preconceived notions and false ideas have colored our vision into what it really is. It’s absolutely true that some types of ‘meditation’ are not helpful to the Christian. Do not confuse these ideas with true Christian meditation. The religions of the East fall into this category. Even some forms of meditation that are taught by Christian groups are not really helpful. One teaching on meditation tells you to clear your mind, sit comfortably and repeat particular phrases or patterns of sounds until you feel at some sort of inner peace. Personally, I don’t understand the benefit of it because it neither promotes the repentance and fellowship with the Spirit that God enjoys. In this blog post we will explore the idea of Christian meditation and the affect it can have on your personal spiritual health and life.
Scripture meditation is something that I have done and taken very seriously since last semester when I was blessed to be able to take a “Personal Spiritual Disciplines” course at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have seen obvious life change with intentional and deliberate meditation on God’s Word everyday. I believe that Scripture meditation is perhaps one of the most neglected disciplines in the Christian life these days. I believe that very few Christians have been taught how important it is to pay close attention to what they think about on an everyday basis. We have all heard the statement, “You are what you eat.” You may wonder how that ties in, but I believe we can put it this way, “You are what you think about.” What we think about is an accurate and personal portrayal of who we really are. You see, today we as believers have become really good at putting on masks or appearing one way when the truth is entirely different. In Matthew Jesus makes it very clear when talking to the Pharisees and teachers of the Law that outward appearances mean nothing when they are false representations of who we really are on the inside. Jesus had this to say in Matthew 23:25-28:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
What a shocking statement Jesus makes here. For the longest time I even fooled myself into thinking that if I appeared to have it “all together” then I must really have everything together!
The Pharisees to us are an obvious case of hypocrisy. But do you really think that they intentionally became hypocrites or do you think that they slipped little by little? You see the Pharisees spent all of their time making sure that they obeyed the law perfectly from the time they were children. From the outside, it appeared that they were keeping God’s law perfectly and were therefore righteous men. But guess what…
In spite of all our outward work God is not impressed with what we appear to be!
But what God is really interested in is what we are like on the inside. He wishes to change us from the inside out. His goal is to make us clean on the inside so that we would naturally be clean on the outside.
I have said all of this to frame the conversation for meditation. To meditate means to engage in contemplation or reflection, or pondering, or to focus one’s thoughts on. To ponder is to weigh in the mind, to think about, and to reflect upon. Meditation is a function of both the mind and the heart. You cannot disconnect either the mind or the heart and still be meditating on Scripture. They go hand-in-hand.
Whether we realize it or not, we all spend a large portion of our time in some form of meditation. The thing is, what we meditate on may or may not be worth our time. In fact, what we habitually think about is could be unhealthy for our growth as Christians. Often it is simply unproductive or sinful. Psalm 19:14 says, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 104:34 says, “May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.” Paul even urges the Philippians to meditate on the things and ways of the Lord in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” Lastly, in Romans 12 we are urged to “be transformed by the renewing of our minds” so that we can better do God’s will.
In the end, we all have to ask ourselves… What do I meditate on daily?
- Work/ Success?
- Technology or the newest gadget?
- Sinful behavior?
- The pressures and stresses of everyday life?
The list could go on and on, but you get the idea… Those things aren’t Jesus.
Meditation is intentional and a lifestyle. It won’t happen on accident. I have learned that meditation can be done at all times of the day. It requires a bit of planning and extra effort to keep focused because it is work. It is also foreign to the natural state of our hearts, which are naturally depraved and sinful. Meditation is something that we MUST choose to do.
Do you want to hear from God? Seek Him through Scripture meditation and prayer.
Brothers and Sisters, we have briefly thought upon the importance of Christian Scripture meditation, so I will leave you with the words of Joshua 1:8,
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.