Two brothers were walking on their father’s extensive, wooded acreage when they came upon a young tree heavy with fruit. Both enjoyed as much of the delicious fruit as they wanted. When they started back, one man gathered all the remaining fruit and took it home with him. His brother, however, took the tree itself and planted it on his own property. The tree flourished and regularly produced a bountiful crop so that the second brother often had fruit when the first had none.
The Bible is like the fruit-bearing tree in this story. Merely hearing the Word of God is to be like the first brother. You may gather much fruit from the encounter and even bring home enough to feed on for a few days, but in the long run it doesn’t compare with having your own tree. Through the Disciplines of reading and studying, we make the tree our own and enjoy its fruit. Among the Spiritual Disciplines we also find the tools of memorization, meditation, and application, which bountifully increase our harvest of fruit from the tree.
MEMORIZING GOD’S WORD—BENEFITS AND METHODS
Many Christians look on the Spiritual Discipline of memorizing God’s Word as something tantamount to modern-day martyrdom. Ask them to memorize Bible verses and they react with about as much eagerness as a request for volunteers to face Nero’s lions. How come? Perhaps because many associate all memorization with the memory efforts required of them in school. It was work, and most of it was uninteresting and of limited value. Frequently heard, also, is the excuse of having a bad memory. But what if I offered you one thousand dollars for every verse you could memorize in the next seven days? Do you think your attitude toward Scripture memory and your ability to memorize would improve? Any financial reward would be minimal when compared to the accumulating value of the treasure of God’s Word deposited within your mind.
Memorization Supplies Spiritual Power
When Scripture is stored in the mind, it is available for the Holy Spirit to take and bring to your attention when you need it most. That’s why the author of Psalm 119 wrote, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (verse 11). It’s one thing, for instance, to be watching or thinking about something when you know you shouldn’t, but there’s added power against the temptation when a specific verse can be brought to your mind, like Colossians 3:2: “Set your minds on the things above, not on earthly things.”
When the Holy Spirit brings a definite verse to mind like that, it’s an illustration of what Ephesians 6:17 can mean when it refers to “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” A pertinent scriptural truth, brought to your awareness by the Holy Spirit at just the right moment, can be the weapon that makes the difference in a spiritual battle.
There is no better illustration than Jesus’ confrontation with Satan in the lonely Judean wilderness (Matthew 4:1–11). Each time the Enemy thrust a temptation at Jesus, He parried it with the sword of the Spirit. It was the Spirit-prompted recollection of specific texts of Scripture that helped Jesus experience victory. One of the ways we can experience more spiritual victories is to do as Jesus did—memorize Scripture so that it’s available for the Holy Spirit to take and ignite within us when it’s needed.
Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 41–42.
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