Think about all of the stuff you have memorized over the years—in school or for your job. Now think about what you have recently memorized. Although you may not currently be involved in an academic setting, you are still actively learning. You can probably recall song lyrics, movie lines, passwords, credit card numbers, and much more. I often catch myself amused by the wide variety of things that have somehow been captured in my mind. I seem to be able to memorize things fairly easily. But, the problem is that I have short-changed my efforts to memorize that which is most edifying and that which draws me closer to God—specifically, Scripture.
I affirm that the Bible is God's Word. It is valuable and is worthy of being hidden in our hearts. God is perfect, and thus the Word of the Lord is also flawless. It is powerful and has the ability to change lives. However, many people choose to avoid memorizing significant portions and key passages of Scripture. Despite a seminary education, daily Bible study, and constant sermon preparation, I'm one of those people. Openly and honestly, I've just not been as committed to this discipline as I should be or want to be.
But that is changing. I have a few goals/resolutions for this next year, and Scripture memorization is at the top of the list. I want to challenge you as leaders to make this commitment as well. Here are a few of the reasons why you should.
It Accurately Expresses My View of Scripture
Although Scripture-memory programs are helpful and important, it seems like they shouldn't have to exist. It seems like this should be something that we are all doing without having to be told or instructed. But, as you know, that's just not always the case.
Most people don't have difficulty memorizing and retaining information—just look at all the examples listed above. However, the reason that many people don't study, learn, and hide the Word of God in their hearts is simply because they don't value it as important enough to do so. I don't want that to be true of me! I certainly value Scripture as vitally important, and so it's time for my actions to show that.
It Helps Protect Me from Sin
Psalm 119:10–11 states, "I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." As the Word of God becomes more and more prevalent in my life, it will allow me to focus on the things of God and not the things of my flesh. I strive to honor God with my life and to refrain from sin, and I believe that Scripture memory will help me do that more and more.
I Am Setting Myself Up to Hear God in a More Clear and Effective Way
We can hear from God through the Bible. Isaiah 55:11 says, "So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty." The Bible is one of the primary means of hearing the voice of God. The Word provides a unique and effective means to hearing the Father. The more an individual knows the Bible, the better they can sense his presence and his voice.
It Sets an Example to Those Around Me
Research is showing that young adults and those in future generations are looking for biblical depth. As you memorize Scripture, it will naturally flow into your conversation with others, your teaching environments, and everywhere else. And in turn, those looking to learn may be more drawn to me and my ministry.
It Keeps My Ministry Effective and Relevant
God's Word is never changing, yet constantly relevant. The Bible provides many examples of how God spoke to men and women throughout biblical history, but it also provides us the ability to apply these truths to our lives today. Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
Despite how culture changes, the Word of God will always be our most effective ministry tool.
It Puts Me in a Greater Position to Be Obedient to God
Christ followers must commit their lives not only to studying the Word of God, but also to putting it into application. James 1:22–24 says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like."
Quite simply, the better I know Scripture, the more naturally I will apply it in my everyday living.
This list certainly isn't comprehensive or complete. The point is that memorizing Scripture is greatly beneficial to you and your ministry. You may already be a Scripture memorizing wiz, but I'm not yet. If you are, please pass on any tips you have that would be helpful. Also, if there are other things that should be on the list, let us know. Let's take on this discipline together and see what God does with our efforts.
Jason Hayes is a Christian communicator who has a passion to direct life-changing experiences through innovative teaching, creative consultation, and resource development. For more info, check out his Threads bio or his personal blog.
Copyright © 2008 by LifeWay Christian Resources; used with permission.