As a child, I’d pop out of bed on Sunday morning and learn that week’s memory verse as I brushed my teeth. I continued to recite it as I dressed and on the ride to church on the blue Sunday School Express. Earning stickers on my chart was a fairly easy endeavor. My spongy, child-sized brain soaked up verses in quick fashion.
My children have memorized scripture since they were three years old through the Awana program. Their brains are much like mine was at their age, spongy. Last week I listened as Kendall recited one of the verses she memorized (I Peter 1:22). It was followed by the question, “What are three ways you can be unselfish toward your friends?” One thing she said was, “You can think about what they want and help them get it rather than focus on what you want.”
“Do you realize that idea comes from the Bible?” I asked.
“Really? Where?” she said.
I turned to Philippians 2:3-4. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
“Oh yeah!” she said. “We learned that verse in Awanas! I forgot about that.”
What struck me about this interaction is that Kendall did not recall the verse from Philippians and yet it flowed out of her when faced with the question of how to treat your friends. It is a part of her thinking, of who she is as a person.
Psalm 119:11 says, Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (KJV). Kendall automatically knew that looking at her friend’s interests was the right thing to do because she had hidden God’s word in her heart. What other things might we be thinking and acting on that are from God’s word and we don’t even realize it? Or more daunting what might be programmed into our being that we are thinking and acting on that is not from God? Hmm, makes one wonder.
Isaiah 55:11 tells us, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. If we plant God’s word in our hearts, it will accomplish a godly mind-set. It will become part of who we are and part of our everyday thinking so that we too will automatically know how to treat a friend, or love our neighbor. We may not be able to quote the verse verbatim or even remember that our thought came from scripture. There is power in memorizing God’s word.
Although my adult brain works less like a sponge and more like a windshield covered in Rain-X, I am endeavoring to memorize some scripture this year. Not only will I set an example of life-long learning for my children, but I’ll be planting the word of truth in my heart which will become part of my thought processes and eventually pour out of me in the way that I live.