Committed to memory

It is of no use to commit whole pages to memory, merely to recite them once without hesitation; you must think of the meaning more than the words - of the ideas more than the language. (Dorothea Dix)

If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them. You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand—you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings. Then I said, “Look, I have come. As is written about me in the Scriptures: I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.” (Psalm 40:5-8)

I used to think I had to memorize all these verses in the Bible to be a Christian. I am not much of a memorizer, though. I can do it, but to simply recite these verses I have learned over the years is not really anything all that profound. In fact, they can be like 'clanging cymbals' or 'noisy gongs' if all I do is memorize them, but they don't really 'get into' my heart and affect the choices I make. The most profound 'use' of the Word of God in my life has been when his Word gets into the mess or muddle of my life and finally straightens things out in a way I could never do on my own. 

The more of his Word that gets 'worked into' the fibers of my being, the more I find my character begins to change. My 'internal drive' is different than it was before - I don't just see things from my crazy, mixed-up mind's eye view, but I see them as he sees them. As Dix said, the 'meaning' matters way more than the words. When we allow God to speak 'meaning' into our lives through the power of his words, we find the shedding of bad habits, forsaking of favorite sins, and dismissal of taunting temptations. Why? The power of God is at work - not just our willpower or 'self-help' plans.

All of God's Word is "useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Reciting it from time to time is fine but allowing it to dig into the recesses of our mind, the failures of our past, and the hurts bottled up within our heart makes for a much better use of his Word. Only then will it begin to teach us how to forsake what is wrong and embrace what is right. 

We create all kinds of ways to 'appear holy', but there is one action we can take that will actually begin to help us live holy lives. It is getting God's Word into our lives - not as recited verse alone, but as the living, breathing Word of God. Those two verses above are the ones I recall from time to time, to remind myself that God is hard at work whenever I take up his Word and ask him to bring it alive within. Just sayin!


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