Meditation: Letting the Word Dwell in You Richly

This article is part of the ongoing series Meditating on God's Word. Conversion is about turning from our idols to the Living God (1 Thess. 1:9). The Living God graciously gives us a new heart for him and his living Word. In other words, our desires change when we become Christians. Peter says that when new birth happens we begin to crave Scripture like a baby craves milk (1 Pet. 1:22-2:2).

So, we don’t “have to read Scripture.” We get to read Scripture. We want to read Scripture. No one should tell me, “You have to kiss your wife, don’t you?” No. I get to. I love her.

I didn’t always crave Scripture because I didn’t become a Christ-follower until I was in college. Before that time, I had no desire for the Word. I remember leaving for college and listening to my mom saying, “Take your Bible with you.” I replied, “Why?” She said, “You might read it one day.” But I didn’t open that Bible until I was a sophomore when God radically changed my life. Soon after, I purchased a massive study Bible, and began reading the Bible like crazy. Prior to this, I had a reading problem. I couldn’t remember anything I read in books. I was getting tutored in reading! But when I became a Christian, everything changed. I couldn’t get enough of the Word. I believed in its power. God gave me the ability to retain what I read and began transforming my mind. I even wrote on the outside edges of my Bible, “It’s alive!” And it is. If we are going to have a living faith, then we need to consume the living Word.

The appropriate place for us to begin a study on how a Christian grows up, then, is by considering how to develop the discipline of meditating on the Word of Christ. Surely Donald Whitney is correct in saying, “No spiritual discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word.”[1]

In this article, I’m going to refer to “meditating on Scripture” broadly. Later, I will talk about “meditation” in a specific sense. But for now, think of meditating on Scripture as a way to describe the act of thinking on God’s Word – through exercises such as reading it, praying it, studying it, hearing it, and memorizing it.[2]

To say it another way, meditation on Scripture is the act of filling your mind with the Word of God. In contrast to some Eastern religions, where meditation is about emptying your mind, Christian meditation is about filling the mind with divine truth.

The need for meditating on Scripture is communicated in a number of places in Scripture. Paul urged the Colossians, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16). That is, live in the Word like it’s your spiritual house. Abide in it. Let it saturate your soul. Let it affect you through and through.

Jesus says a similar thing with the vine and branches analogy in John 15. He tells his disciples to “abide in the vine” or “abide in him” because apart from union and communion with him they (and we) can produce no spiritual fruit. But Jesus never tells us how to “abide” specifically. But I think he gives us a clue in verse 7, where he says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you” (emphasis added). D.A. Carson says, Jesus is “getting at the same truth,” that is, we commune with Jesus by abiding in his words.[3] Abiding in Jesus entails a growing absorption of his teaching, which leads to fruitful living. Carson says, “Such words must so lodge in the disciple’s mind and heart that conformity to Christ, obedience to Christ, is the most natural thing in the world.”[4]

The belief that you need to meditate on the Word of Christ continually stems from some important theological convictions. A primary conviction is that the Word and Spirit are the primary means God uses to shape us into the image of Christ. This is the belief often called “The Sufficiency of Scripture.” God uses his Word to “equip us” or “complete us” for “every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). At times his Word comforts us, at other times it instructs us, and often it rebukes us and corrects us. All of these encounters with God’s Word are good for us. God disciplines those whom he loves in order to make them like Jesus, and his instrument for shaping us is his Word.

Another conviction is referred to as, “The Necessity of Scripture.” This the belief that we need the Word of God for knowledge of the Gospel, for spiritual health and certain knowledge of God’s will.[5]

While people may know that God exists through conscious and creation generally, we need the written Word of God to show us what God requires, and to teach us how to know the Gospel and grow in Christ specifically.

We have been given such a gift in the Word of God! Like the people of Israel in the Exodus wanderings, we need to collect manna every morning because we do not live by “bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4; see also Deut. 8:2-3). But if the Bible is indeed the inspired, sufficient, necessary Word of God, then why don’t people pursue Scripture with more passion? More personally, why don’t you crave God’s Word? Why don’t I?

In Part Two of this series, I will mention some “pits, thorn hedges and man traps” we must avoid and overcome.

[1] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1991), 28. [2] In chapter 4, I will discuss the need to meditate on God’s Word by discussing it with others in Gospel-centered fellowship. [3] Jesus’ “words” refers to his teachings, which taken all-together makes up his “Word.” [4] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John. The Pillar Commentary Series (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 517. [5] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 116.


Tony Merida serves as the Lead Pastor of Imago Dei Church, Raleigh, NC and as the Associate Professor of Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to Kimberly, with whom he has five children. Tony is the co-author of Orphanology and author of Faithful Preaching. He travels and speaks all over the world at various events, especially pastor’s conferences, orphan care events, and youth/college conferences.