As you may have read in my goals post for this month, I want to have Romans 1 memorized by the end of March.
I think in general, most people would agree, “it’s good to memorize Scripture.” But if we all agree to this, why don’t we do it?
Can I suggest that maybe the reason we don’t is because we have turned Scripture memorization into an item on a checklist of righteousness without ever actually considering what the Bible, itself, has to say about it? So let’s take a step back look at three passages that speak about Scripture memorization.
The lesson from this passage is pretty straight-forward. God instructs us to memorize his Word.
Here in Deuteronomy, God has just given the Israelites his commands. From this passage we learn that God gives us his Word to teach us how to live in a way that is holy and pleases him. God wants us to obey his teachings for our own good and well-being. He affirms that following his instruction manual isn’t a way to drag us down but to give us life to the fullest. But simply knowing of his commands isn’t enough; the way to actually carry them out is by memorizing them.
God wants his commands to “be on your hearts.” He says, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (6:6-9)
God, himself, tells us that we should memorize his Word! He knows that the best way to truly follow his Word is to have it stamped on our hearts.
If you need a reminder of how precious God’s Word is, head on over to Psalm 119. The longest chapter in the Bible, this Psalm is actually a giant acrostic poem of 176 verses all about one thing: the value of Scripture.
(Truly, if you ever wonder why it’s important to know and read the Bible, I challenge you to read this Psalm and write down all the benefits of Scripture you find!)
I’m just going to focus on one verse for today, verse 11. It says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
This Psalm teaches us that memorizing Scripture is our way to obey God/combat sin.
If you still aren’t convinced of this, let’s look at an actual example from the Bible of how Scripture memorization helped to keep one man from sinning.
Our example comes from Christ, himself: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Satan tempts Jesus three times in the desert. Every time Satan tempts Jesus, Jesus refutes his offer with God’s Word.
I think it’s interesting to note that when Jesus was tempted in the desert, he didn’t rely on his own willpower. What kept Jesus from sinning was the Scripture that was hidden in his heart.
What sin are you struggling with right now? Do you ever think, “I should just be strong enough to resist the temptation.” Or, “I just have to have more willpower next time.” Have you ever considered that if Jesus, Himself – our Savior, the Author and Perfecter of our faith – didn’t rely on “willpower” to keep from sinning when he was tempted, then maybe we shouldn’t either?
After considering these passages, I think the Bible is very clear that memorizing Scripture is a crucial way to sustain a holy life in the midst of the temptations we face every day.
How does Scripture actually help us in our day to day lives? Through the Holy Spirit, who “guides us in all truth” (John 16:13). When we do our own part to impress his Word on our hearts, the Holy Spirit will bring those Scriptures to mind at just the right time. When we are faced with temptation, He gently nudges us with God’s Word at the pivotal moment. Every Scripture we memorize primes us to be more in tune with the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our lives.
At this point you might be thinking, “I get this whole Scripture memorization thing theologically, but how can this practically work in my life?” We have doubts that it’s realistically possible in our hectic and over-scheduled lives.
Some common reasonings are
- We aren’t good at memorizing Scripture
- We’re too old to memorize things anymore
- We don’t have the time to
- It just sounds like a lot of work!
If you truly believe that what the Bible says about Scripture memorization is true, then don’t let discouraging thoughts hinder you from following through. If you believe that you aren’t good at memorization, it may just be because you haven’t tried the right method for you. That is why in Part 2, I will be offering some tips and techniques for you to try.
Don’t be discouraged because of your age. Anyone can memorize Scripture, no matter what age. Older people can learn whole new languages, it just takes a little hard work. If you feel like you don’t have time to set aside for memorizing, then I think you just have to be honest and ask yourself, “Is this something that is truly important to me? Do I truly think that God is nudging me to memorize His Word?” If it is meaningful to you, then it’s worth carving time out for. Look at your schedule to find just one activity you could cut out. Then pencil in even just 10-15 minutes a day or a couple nights a week to memory work.
For those who are hesitant to try memorizing Scripture because they think it will be hard, all I can say is, yes it will be! But if what the Bible says is true – that Scripture memorization is crucial for us to live in step with God’s direction – how can we afford not to put in the work?
So, are you convinced yet? If you are still unsure where to start with Scripture memorization, be sure to look for Part 2, all about tips and techniques for memorizing. Together, let’s live an intentional life, starting with embedding God’s Truth in our hearts.