The Wrong Motive For Scripture Memorization

The Wrong Motive For Scripture Memorization

Opened bible on a wooden desk background.

I can vividly remember doing Bible drills in Sunday School when I was a kid. In these drills, we would memorize Scripture and come to class prepared to recite our verse. Being the competitive person that I am, I was always motivated to memorize mine so that I wasn’t the goofball that neglected to do my “spiritual homework” or so that I could come in and “win”. My motives couldn’t have been more off! But I noticed something amazing: even though I memorized the verses with a sometimes selfish motive, God’s Word was getting inside of me nonetheless. I was able to recall it in times that I needed it and it slowly started changing me from the inside out! Even if I had done it in a spirit of competition, I had “stored up [God’s] word in my heart, that I might not sin against [Him].”

What I am saying is this: Even when I am selfishly motivated, God’s Word has never returned void. And it never will.

I’ve found Scripture memory to be extremely vital in my walk with Jesus. For one thing, it guides me when I am facing temptation, for His Word is significantly more powerful than anything that I may be up against. But in order for the Word of God to do this, I must have hidden it in my heart. If I am facing the desires of the flesh, I can quote Galatians 5:16,But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh,” and it will speak life directly into my temptation. If I have not taken the time to memorize it, though, I may be quoting John 11:35 on a loop: Jesus wept. Jesus wept. Jesus wept. Jesus wept. Scripture contains instructions; unless you internalize those instructions, you’ll never be able to follow them! When it comes time for me to need something I’ve committed to memory, I’m reminded of the Words breathed directly from God’s mouth onto the pages of Scripture and spoken directly into my heart and mind, which I then preach to myself. At this point, I am more equipped and ready to live out obedience to His Word, rather than, falling to temptation.

I used to think that I just didn’t have the mental capacity or time to memorize Scripture. Then I was convicted about this kind of thinking when I realized I had the capacity to memorize song lyrics and quotes to my favorite movies. Since I had time to memorize these lines, I had time to memorize the lines of God’s Word. So now, I listen to the passages using an app, which  called FighterVerse. It speaks the passage you highlight, and helps you memorize the verses in unique, yet effective ways.

In my opinion, the key to memorizing Scripture is finding the best way your mind retains information. When I was in college, I wrote it down over and over, every opportunity that I had. Currently, I only listen to it while driving in my truck, and it has worked wonders. Try different strategies to see what works best for you. Whatever strategy you try, the key is this: try something! Don’t neglect an opportunity to store God’s Word in your heart, for it can and will conquer the battles going on in your mind and life.

Can you do me a favor? If these ideas resonate with you, would you:

  • REACT. Do something.
  • RESPOND. Leave a comment on this post.
  • REPOST. Repost this link on Twitter, Facebook or your blog.

Robby Gallaty is the Senior Pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, TN. He was radically saved out of a life of drug addiction on November 12, 2002. In 2008, he began Replicate Ministries to equip and train men and women to be disciples who make disciples. He is also the author of Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples (2013), Firmly Planted: How to Cultivate a Faith Rooted in Christ (2015), Rediscovering Discipleship: Making Jesus’ Final Words Our First Work (2015), Foundations: A 260-Day Bible Reading Plan for Busy Believers (2015), and The Forgotten Jesus: How Western Christians Should Follow an Eastern Rabbi (2017).
  • For me, memorizing Scripture is first and foremost an act of love for Jesus (Jn14_15). By the unmatched power of His Spirit (Jn17_17), it brings three things:
    1) Better intimacy with God. (Jn15_7-8)
    2) A better witness for God (2Tim2_15, 1Pet3_15)
    3) Better protection under the wings of God (Ps119_11, Ruth2_12)
    My first call is to love Him. Memorizing Scripture puts me in a much better position to do that every day. Jesus words themselves (rhema) must abide in me, not just His word as concept (logos) for them to be most active in my life.

  • ScottNei

    The opening paragraph reminds of this from Philippians:

    15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.
    16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.
    17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.
    18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, – Philippians 1:15-18

  • Thanks for the comment Scott!