“The fruit of the Spirit is not a coconut!” So went the song that helped me memorize my first Bible verse—Galatians 5:22–23. Truth be told, my eight year old self was in it for the candy. My summer camp counselor stood at the front of the room with a big bowl of treats. Once we recited the verse by memory, we could grab a handful and go play in the gym.
Why memorize scripture? Some Christians memorize to look important. Some do so out of a sense of obligation. Most of us in America are privileged to own not one, but several Bibles, including digital ones on our phones! If Scripture is more accessible than ever, why should we take the trouble to commit it to memory?
While no one rewards me with candy anymore, memorizing scripture still provides wonderful benefits.
Scripture memory helps us…
- THINK—In Philippians 4:8, Paul commands us to think upon whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Scripture fulfills all those requirements and more! In a world darkened by sin, it is important to feed our mind good spiritual food. Memorizing scripture helps reshape our thinking patterns into something more holy.
- KNOW—Scripture reveals the character and purposes of God. Just as you remember details about your loved ones (their favorite icecream flavor, most embarrassing moments, and biggest pet peeves) so does it help us to remember details about God. When someone tells me I follow an “angry and unjust God,” I can point back to Psalm 103:8, which reminds us that God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Pulling out a Bible can often shut these conversations down or seem formal. You wouldn’t appreciate your husband pulling out a calendar to remember your birthday. Some things are important to commit to memory.
- REMEMBER—In my darkest moments, God often calls specific scripture to mind. His word has a particular authority over us. In Isaiah 55:11, God promises that his word will not return to him without accomplishing its purpose. Each time we read the Bible or commit scripture to memory, we are submitting ourselves to the word of God, allowing it to accomplish the work of God.
- PRAY—One of the best ways to grow in our prayer life is to listen to someone else pray. Scripture contains countless prayers for the saints, providing a beautiful template for us to model. When I feel at a loss for words, the Psalms of David provide a voice for my anguish.
When we memorize scripture it is critical to understand the larger context of the verse. Many of us can recite John 3:16, but what comes before that? What does John say afterward? While most of us will not memorize the entire Bible, we must make an effort to learn the surrounding context of our memory verse. For example, the fruit of the Spirit which we talked about at the beginning are not a to–do list for Christian believers. Earlier in his letter, Paul strongly reminds his audience that righteousness cannot be gained through following rules, but only through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. No Christian can do anything to make them more or less holy before God. Understanding this context keeps people from ranking themselves based on how well they exhibit these virtues!
God’s word is alive, active, and authoritative. Its ways lead to life. Its words lead us to greater intimacy with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I may not get candy for memorizing scripture anymore, but as the Psalmist wrote, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps. 119:103).
About The Author
Allie Mock grew up in Sugar Land, Texas. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas A&M University and will graduate with a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary in December 2018. Allie enjoys exploring the great outdoors, being silly, and teaching the Bible. She currently serves as an intern for HeartStrong Faith.