For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
I was just with a group of Christian friends and one was a youth leader. He was talking about how he was challenging the high schoolers to memorize 1 John and he would shave his head if they did. That’s what I thought I heard. But then he clarified. He said, “No, I will shave my head if they just memorize the first chapter.” I said, “That’s only ten verses long.” He responded saying that he didn’t know if they would even do that, they’re teenagers.
My reply was that when I was a teen, I could recite over 800 verses by heart. Another woman sitting there said, “Yea, but you were exceptional. But we appreciate having you around so when we need to know where something is found in the Bible, you can tell us.” That statement has stuck with me.
Is that the only reason people think that they memorize Scripture? If that is so, then they are missing the two edged sword that is at work in their lives. Since then, I’ve been thinking that I need to come up with what memorizing has done in my life. This is my list of benefits. I could elaborate on each of them with many examples, but for the sake of space, I won’t.
- Changes you. Romans 12:2 tells us that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. Ephesians 4:17-24 also talks about this process of being renewed in the spirit of our minds and putting on the new self. I’ve known people who have been Christians for years, but their characters are untransformed. I’m guessing that they are not in the Word much. Memorizing Scripture takes the transformation process a step deeper because it goes with you wherever you go, enabling you to meditate on that verse throughout the day. The Holy Spirit can speak it back to you and roll it through your mind until you get it.
- Keeps you from sin. That’s what Psalm 119:11 says: Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee. I take that at face value. Bringing up verses in the time of temptation just like Jesus did can send Satan packing. Jesus said, “It is written” three times in the wilderness and Satan left. So say the verses you know out loud, not just to yourself.
- Makes you fruitful. Psalm 1 tells that if we meditate on the Word day and night we will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth fruit in season and out of season. Memorizing is a way to totally meditate on verses throughout the day. The Holy Spirit is able to bring words of Scripture to your mind because they have been stored up in your mind. The promise of Psalm 1 is that if this is the pattern of your life, you will be fruitful. In other words, you will see things happen spiritually as a result of this pattern. You will see change in your own life, whether it is bad habits broken, or good habits produced. You will also see opportunities spring up to speak those words to others, and the desire to share Jesus with others in productive ways.
- Makes you God’s spokesperson. Jeremiah 15:16-19 talks about this. Jeremiah said, Thy words were found and I ate them and they became to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart. I did not sit in the company of revelers but I sat alone because Your hand was upon me…Therefore the Lord said: ‘If you utter precious words and not worthless ones you will be as My mouth–you will be my spokesman.’ If you are like Jeremiah, spending time in intimate fellowship with God, knowing the Bible so much that you can quote it, you will be His mouth piece. These are worthy words.
Those aren’t all of the by products of memorizing, but it’s a good start. I know that it has kept my mind sharp. Our minds are like muscles. People say they can’t memorize, but yet they can reel off details of what they are interested in, whether it is about sports, their favorite television series that they have just binge watched, or the breed of dog that they have. The more you use your mind muscle, the better you get with it.
So use it for the living, active and transforming Word of God that is sharper than any two edged sword and able to change your life and the lives of the people God uses you to impact.