Whether you know it or not, you are constantly memorizing things. You must remember the laws of the road to drive a car. You remember the words to every song that comes on the radio. All the players of your favorite sports team and their statistics quickly come to mind when the team is mentioned. While we have no trouble remembering these types of necessary and important things, many of us have almost no Scripture memorized (aside from John 3:16 of course).
I don’t believe this to be a lack of time or ability, but instead a lack of seeing the importance of it. So, what I would like to do is make a case for the importance of having Bible verses dedicated to our memory.
For our Benefit
Memorizing Scripture is for our own benefit. It will daily help you to live a Christ honoring life.
“I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
What purpose does the writer of this Psalm give for storing up the word of God in one’s heart? That you might not sin against God. How else are we to do the will of God if we do not know it. This is such an important point. To be a follower of Jesus you have to know how to follow. You need to know the heart of God; what He is for and against. God has revealed Himself to us through the written words of the Bible, we should take advantage of that. This absolutely happens through the reading of the Bible, but if we never commit any of it to memory, it’s not of the same value to us when we are struggling through something and can’t remember what the Word of God says on a subject. It is powerful. It’s a guide for our life.
For instance, if you are someone who can easily become upset, it would be of benefit to you to remember passages like James 1:19-20 that says: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. . .” If you have committed that verse to memory, then you can repeat it to yourself when you are tempted to give in to that anger and it can guide your actions.
Later in this very Psalm, it says “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps.119:105). This cannot be true of us if we do not know the Word of God. Those without licenses are not allowed to drive a car because they do not have to knowledge to guide their actions. We don’t trust that they can get to their destination safely and properly. Involved in this is not simply reading the laws of the road but also committing them to memory. If you can’t remember what they are, they are of no use to you when you need them the most— like driving down the freeway. As a licensed Utah driver, this is all too real!
The Bible is our guide to life. In it we find all that we need to properly navigate this life to the glory of God. His heart and desires are plainly laid out for us to know and follow. But we need to do more than read it, we need to commit it to our memory so that when life hits us, we have a basis to stand on and know exactly what the Word of God has to say.
For the Benefit of Others
The importance of memorizing Scripture is not just for our own benefit, it is for others as well.
“…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. . .” 1 Peter 3:15
Always being prepared to make a defense for the hope that is in you is very difficult if you don’t know the basis of that hope— that being the Word of God.
We are called to be lights in this world and spread the good news of the gospel. The world is opposed to this message. The world is also void of lasting hope. When you live a life that is honoring to Christ, one that reflects a hope greater than the world could offer, people take note of that and question it. This is a perfect opportunity to be that light and share that good news. If we have not memorized verses like 2 Corinthians 5:21, that says “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin. So that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”, then we cannot adequately give a reason for our hope. Being able to boldly and accurately share the words of God doesn’t happen by accident, it is something that we must work at. This is one of the best ways to do so. We don’t have to leave it up ourselves to come up with great and mighty speeches, the Word of God carries authority and speaks powerfully.
It’s important that we are able to articulate the message of the Bible to others. There is no better way to do so than to know its exact words. The last things we want to do is be caught off guard and not able to give an answer or to misrepresent what God has said.
The words of God are powerful. They are each individually inspired by God in their original writing. Our words are not. The words of God change lives and bring conviction. They have an authority behind them that we do not carry on our own. We are humans and lack the divine inspiration behind what we say. Dedicating God’s Word to memory has the ability to not only change your life, but change the lives of those around you as well. In an age that we memorize so much, let us not neglect to memorize the one thing that matters most.