I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We live from the inside out. What we think (as well as how we think) matters. What goes into our minds comes out in our lives. It is the content in our minds that drives the direction of our lives. Yes we have moments when we act before we think, but predominantly our thought life dictates the course of action that we take.
Over the years, I’ve memorized hundreds of Bible verses and it’s made a huge difference in my thought life. While the movement from my mind to my life has been slow, I wonder what kind of person I would be if I did not have the knowledge of God’s Word in my life. So, I’d like to say a few things about memorization of Scripture.
Everyone can memorize. It takes no special skill. It’s often the case that we don’t memorize Scripture, not because we can’t, but because we haven’t experienced the value of it in our lives. Of course, we don’t experience the value of it because we’ve not done it, and so the cycle goes. However, the difference between memorizing Scripture and knowing Scripture is the difference between consuming a good meal and merely tasting it. When we consume food we receive all the benefits of the nutrients and gain strength. Jer 15:16 says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.”
So what are the benefits of memorizing Scripture? Just a few come to mind:
- Memorization supplies spiritual power over sin. The Psalmist tells us that he “stored up” God’s Word in his heart “that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11). When tempted, Jesus immediately applied God’s Word as the primary weapon against the Devil (Mt. 4:7, 10; see also, Eph. 6:17). Moreover, God’s Word gives us an authoritative basis to deny false teachings, just as Jesus did when Satan misapplied Scripture (Mt 4:5-7).
- Memorization helps us distinguish right from wrong. God’s Word sheds moral light on life, giving us wisdom and discernment. Not only are we able to know what is good, but we may distinguish between options and choose what is best as the light of God’s Word points the way we are to go (Ps. 119:24, 104-105; Rom. 7:7; 2 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 4:12).
- Memorization provides a basis for meditation and gives us a way of setting our “minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:2; also Philip 4:8). The psalmist proclaims, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97).
- Memorization demonstrates we value God’s Word in our lives. It is a tangible means of showing we care enough about what God thinks to remember it. God told Moses (and us by extension) to take his Word seriously. Deut. 6:6-9 reads, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Though we may not literally posts Bible texts on our homes, the notion is clear that God’s Word must permeate and saturate our thoughts, attitudes, and behavior.
- Memorization emboldens our witness for Christ. Peter quoted from Scripture when testifying to God’s grace at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40). In Pisidian Antioch Paul quoted Scripture repeatedly showing the truth of Christ as Lord and Messiah (Acts 13:13-41). When attacked by the Jews one week later, Paul again quoted Scripture to substantiate God’s truth (Acts 13:44-47). See also Acts 4:31; 16:32; 2 Cor. 10:4-5.
- Memorization sustains us as we live in a world occupied by some who resist God. It allows us to take God’s Word with us wherever we go. Although Ps. 1:1-3 speaks to meditation, the implantation of God’s Word via memorization is presupposed, and is a beautiful picture of the stability and prosperity that the Word of God brings. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”