One of my deepest desires is to be a woman who loves the word of God. And not just for the sake of knowledge about the bible, but I want to love His word in such a way that it changes me. To love scripture to the greatest degree that I am utterly consumed with it because I know that it will not only grow my affection for my Savior, but it will also work its power in my life so that I will be made more like Jesus. I desire to see scripture as Jesus did— “Man will not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). To love God’s word is to love the Lord Himself. And I want to be a lover of the One who made Himself known to a sinner like me.
But to love the word, we have to know the word. It’s not enough to sit in church on Sunday and have text read to you. It’s not enough to read a bible quote presented on a pretty graphic. It’s not enough to read a devotional written by someone about the bible. To love the word of God, we must discipline ourselves to read it, to meditate on it, to pray over it, to memorize it … so that its truths are planted in our heart. The soil of our hearts is softened, fertilized, and watered by the truth of scripture. And as we devour its goodness, like a tender gardener, the Holy Spirit grows fruit from its life-giving truth.
Do We Know God’s Word?
When I was in middle school (some 20+ years ago! Wow, I am old…) Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was a part of our required reading. If you haven’t read this book, it will just suffice to say that within its pages contains a storyline that not only bans books, but requires that all books be burned, including bibles. As a young 7th grader, I remember thinking this plot was very sobering (and ironically this classic novel was attempted to be banned on several occasions). At any rate, there was a part of the book which brought hope. For the sake of simplicity, I will just summarize by saying that there was a group of book lovers who had gathered together and had taken it upon themselves to memorize books. More specifically they had memorized books of the bible. Since most (if not all) bibles had been burned, the only way to carry forth scripture was to know it from memory and recite it to future generations. [A similar plot line is found in The Book of Eli].
Now, I know this is just a hypothetical (and most likely unrealistic)….but if bibles were burned or banned (like they are in some countries), how much would we really know? Could we recite any? A few verses here and there? Or would we lose the one gift that the Lord promised has the power to change our lives? Or perhaps it is more distressing that this most important gift is at the edge of our fingertips, yet we neglect it because we do not find it worth our time.
I write this knowing full well it is a bit of an exaggeration, but I couldn’t help but think about how easily we take advantage of God’s word. I also realize that we can know God’s word and still not allow it to penetrate our hearts. But if the desire is there to really know and love scripture, then the Lord will surely be faithful to not let His word return void (Isaiah 55:11).
I also write all of this with the upmost humility, as I do not always display the discipline nor desire to read the word of God. It’s a spiritual battle to daily kill the fleshly urges that lie to us by disguising other activities as sweeter than meditating on the very words of our Creator. Nevertheless, if we want to be people who love the Lord, then we must be a people who love and obey His word (John 14:15, 1 John 5:2).
The Importance Of Scripture Memory
Charles Spurgeon was quoted as saying, “The bible in the memory is better than the bible in the bookcase.” And how right he is! It is my personal experience, and observation of other faith filled Christians, that when our minds are saturated with the word of God, the effects of its truth spill out into all areas of our life. We can better fight sin, we become more like Jesus, we conquer guilt, we find comfort in affliction, we serve more selflessly, we love others like Christ, we find strength and peace, we love the Lord more and more, and on and on the list goes. As infinite as the Lord Himself is so also are the benefits of memorizing His word.
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it…” – Joshua 1:8
The Lord commanded Joshua to meditate on His word day and night. David testified to this same command and through it found joy! (Psalm 119:111). Jeremiah also loved the word of God- “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart…” (Jeremiah 15:16). We too are commanded to let the word of God dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16). And how does the word of God dwell in us? By storing up His word in our heart (Psalm 119:11).
We simply are not just a people who are called to know about God. Rather, we need to become a people who display God to the world. And memorizing scripture is vital to this calling. As our hearts are transformed by the power of scripture we become “the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).