“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Ps. 119:15-16)
“More to be desired are [God’s words] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” (Ps. 19:10-11)
Growing up in church, I remember my early days in Sunday School. Every week, my peers and I were given the task to memorize a Bible verse and if we were successful, we were awarded with a piece of candy. It was a pretty sweet deal! Unfortunately, I confess, those Bible verses did not stick with me growing up and I couldn’t tell you what I memorized. Secondly, I confess that I wanted the candy more than the beauty of Scripture. If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self that there is something much sweeter than candy. That is, Scripture.
There is nothing in this world that is greater than knowing God (it is, indeed, humanity’s highest good), and Scripture reveals who God is and what God has done.
“There is nothing in this world that is greater than knowing God, and Scripture reveals who God is and what God has done.”
I’ve come to understand that memorizing Scripture is one of the best ways to constantly meditate on the Bible and remember who God is and what God has done. I believe that all people (Christians especially) should try and memorize Scripture. Now, you may be thinking:
- “I don’t have enough time to memorize Scripture. I have a full work day, I have a family to attend to, and a lot of tasks that need to be taken care of around the house…”
- “Memorizing Scripture is a choice, but it’s not mandatory or a requirement…”
- “I don’t have a good memory, so it’s not worth my time or effort…”
Although these reasons sound reasonable, I want to argue that memorizing Scripture is worthwhile and is one of the greatest ways to soak in God’s Word. When we soak in God’s Word, it transforms us from the inside out. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, let me give you three additional reasons why Christians should memorize Scripture.
Reason #1: We memorize Scripture because Jesus did.
If you read through the Gospels, you may notice that it seems that Jesus is quoting Scripture all the time. I think one of the most fascinating instances of Jesus quoting Scripture comes from His temptation in the wilderness. What I find so fascinating is the fact that Jesus responds with Scripture to every temptation thrown His way by the devil. Let’s look at Matthew 4:1-11 and see his recording of the temptation of Jesus:
Satan: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matt. 4:3).
Jesus: It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4; Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3).
Satan: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hand they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone’” (Matt. 4:6; Satan quotes Psalm 91:11, 12).
Jesus: “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matt. 4:7; Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:16).
Satan: (After showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory) “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me” (Matt. 4:9).
Jesus: “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’” (Matt. 4:10; Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13).
This section of Scripture fascinates me because we see from Jesus Himself that Scripture can be used as a tool to resist temptation. Jesus, being tempted in the wilderness, didn’t pull out a scroll to quote Scripture. Jesus was able to quote Scripture. Maybe we should also take the example of Jesus and know Scripture by heart! This way, we can be able to resist temptation and be able to understand the desires and will of God.
“Jesus, being tempted in the wilderness, didn’t pull out a scroll to quote Scripture. Jesus was able to quote Scripture.”
Reason #2: We memorize Scripture because we need it.
Memorizing Scripture should not be draining, but rejuvenating. Scripture has the power to bring us life and hope! What better way to hold on to this hope and life than by Scripture memorization? I believe when we look at Scripture, we see a clear calling to keep God’s Word on our hearts and minds.
Previously, I wrote an article concerning the biblical teaching on the Shema that I believe is relevant here. The Shema (Deut. 6:4-9) calls for a confession of exclusive faithful obedience to Yahweh that would be passed on for generations to come. I believe that the Shema teaches us to have an exclusive and extensive devotion to the LORD that becomes an integral part of our lives. The Shema prayer is a reminder to keep God’s Word and proceeds to extend to our everyday lives.
In the same way, the Shema prayer is a reminder to keep God’s Word on our minds and hearts, memorizing Scripture also keeps God’s Word on our minds and hearts and it extends to our everyday life! But everyday life isn’t easy. In fact, this life can prove to be very difficult. Sometimes, I forget the hope and life that we have, but Scripture reminds me that there are solutions in this troubling world. In this life, we face a lot of different troubles (can I get an amen?).
“Scripture reminds me that there are solutions in this troubling world.”
My hope and prayer for you is that you see that Scripture can help us counter the various troubles in our lives. When we face these troubles, we can rely on the Holy Spirit to help us bring these memorized texts to mind. As I’ve begun memorizing Scripture as a spiritual discipline, I’ve personally seen the significance and hope it brings me.
When I’m in dry seasons, when I’m feeling hopeless, or when I’m just struggling in this life, the Holy Spirit reminds me of different verses that I’m able to hold on to. I think of texts like 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, especially when Paul writes: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:54-55). I’m also reminded of Titus 3:4-7 where Paul writes:
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.“
These are just two texts that I’ve personally memorized because they bring me hope when I feel hopeless. These texts rejuvenate my soul and I’m sure that your soul will be rejuvenated through different texts that you memorize.
“When I’m in dry seasons, when I’m feeling hopeless, or when I’m just struggling in this life, the Holy Spirit reminds me of different verses that I’m able to hold on to.”
What better way to counter the troubles of this world than with Scripture?
- When you’re feeling anxious, think of what Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” It’s humbling to cast our anxieties on God, but God cares for our needs and He is way better than we are at it!
- When you’re feeling discouraged or exhausted or weary from this life, think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Calm in the midst of turmoil.
- When you’re facing trouble or persecution or no peace in this world, think of Jesus’ words in John 16:33: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Jesus has conquered through His suffering on the cross!
- When you feel like your service to Christ doesn’t feel meaningful or purposeful, don’t forget Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Memorize Scripture: “I believe that one of the best ways to set our minds on things that are above is through the discipline of memorizing Scripture.”
Scripture has the power to renew our minds and our hearts. If our mind is filled with Scripture, then we will live out Scripture. Paul calls us to “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). I believe that one of the best ways to set our minds on things that are above is through the discipline of memorizing Scripture. Furthermore, if our minds are filled with Scripture and we strive to live it out, we will be able to become more and more like Jesus and walk as He did. Or, think of it this way:
Reason #3: We memorize Scripture because it helps shape us into Christlikeness.
The goal of believers is to be shaped into Christlikeness and I believe that memorizing Scripture has the power to shape us into Christlikeness. Remember what Paul stated so powerfully in Romans 8:29: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” What wonderful news! It was and still is God’s plan that His people (you and me!) should become like Jesus. In order to become like Christ, we need God’s Word to shape and mold us. Just as a potter molds clay to shape it into what he or she wants it to be, God’s Word has the transforming power to shape us to be more and more like Christ. Look at what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:18:
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Seifrid puts it well in his commentary on 2 Corinthians: “The glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ has been revealed to all who hear the Gospel and believe.” Isn’t this great news? Paul continues to tell us that we can be transformed (“are being transformed”). Transformation takes place in Christ and we can continue to be shaped and molded by God’s Word to keep striving to be like Christ.
Memorize Scripture: “We can continue to be shaped and molded by God’s Word to keep striving to be like Christ.”
It will help us to remember the words of 1 John 2:5-6: “By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” The point and the aim is to live for God by walking in the way that Jesus walked. I believe that if we allow the Word of God to dwell in us richly and continually meditate on it (memorization!), then we will be able to continually strive to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
In this same passage, John also tells us another related truth that is beneficial to us: “And the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:14). Again, Jesus knew the word of God by heart as we see in His temptation in the wilderness. Jesus was able to overcome Satan and his plan to offer an “easier route to his Messianic ministry.” What kind of Messiah would Jesus be? Not a merely political one, not one who takes the “easy route”, but the liberator of God’s people. Jesus was able to overcome Satan and his temptations and we can do the same if we allow the Word of God to abide in us. We can overcome the evil one as we allow the Word of God to abide in us.
Memorize Scripture: “Jesus was able to overcome Satan and his temptations and we can do the same if we allow the Word of God to abide in us.”
Why should Christians memorize Scripture? Because Jesus did, we need it, and it shapes us into Christlikeness. I like how Charles Spurgeon put it: “Be walking Bibles.” I like to think of people who memorize Scripture like that. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a “walking Bible.” I want people to look at my life and see Jesus. I want the Bible to be written on my heart and on my mind. I want the Bible to be on my mind when I wake up in the mornings, during the midday, and when I lie down to sleep. I want the Bible to continually shape and transform me. I hope and I pray that the same is for you.