One of the advantages of memorizing God’s Word is that it forces us to really think about what a verse says. For example, when you realize what Matthew 6:25 is really saying, it’s a pretty incredible statement. Christ warns his followers not get worried about their life. The ESV has “do not be anxious” while the KJV has “take no thought.” Both are translations of the Greek word merimnao, which means to think about something over and over again because you’re anxious about it.
That Christ says not to be anxious is perhaps not incredibly surprising, but then he gets specific. He tells people not to get worried about the little things in life, like what you are going to eat and what you are going to wear. In a society where food and drink are fairly easy to come by, and where we worry about whether our clothes are new or hand-me downs, the situation Christ is addressing seems strange.
Christ told a parable about a landowner going to the marketplace and hiring men to work for the day (Matthew 20). At one point, he comes to the marketplace at the end of the day and sees that with only an hour left in the workday, several men are still standing around with nothing to do. This type of situation was not unheard of in ancient times.
It’s likely that some of the people listening to Christ didn’t have a guaranteed source of income. It’s possible that some of them had recently not known where they would get their next meal, or that they had to skip meals because they didn’t have the money. How in the world could Jesus simply say to them, “Don’t worry. Don’t allow your mind to get stuck on repeat with anxious thoughts.”
If we aren’t even supposed to worry over the most basic necessities like food and clothing, then there isn’t ever an excuse to worry! In no situation do we need to allow our minds to become overworked and exhausted trying to figure out what job we are going to get, or how the rent will get taken care of, or if that rattling noise is going to be a $500 repair. While God wants us to be responsible, we are not to worry. Why? Because our good Father in heaven already has all of these issues taken care of.
Since we are looking to memorize a passage of Scripture together, I wanted to put some thoughts down on why we are doing this and how best to go about memorizing. I hope that the some of this extra time many of us have will be put to good use as we seek to continue growing in grace.
I cannot say this loudly enough – memorization is not the end goal! Memorization is not a magic rabbit’s foot that will instantly keep you from sinning. Memorization is a means to an end, and that end is meditation. You should memorize God’s Word so that wherever you go, God’s Word goes with you.
As you think about God’s Word, repeating it over and over to yourself, it will begin to change your outlook on life. As you think deeply, and repeat often, the principles, promises, and picture of God that thinking will reshape you. What is constantly running through your mind is continually reprogramming you. Start thinking on Scripture all day, every day, and I guarantee it will change.
There is only one effective way to memorize – spaced repetition. That means you repeat over and over to yourself what you are trying to memorize. And you spread those repetitions out over time. In other words, saying a verse 100 times in a row is less effective than saying it 20 times in a row over 5 days, which is less effective than saying it 10 times in the morning and evening for 5 days. Cramming might help you say the passage in time to get the piece of candy in children’s church or to get credit on the quiz, but it doesn’t set you up for true memorization.
Over the next few weeks, as we battle boredom, frustration, and anxiety, let's remember to turn our minds to Jesus and what he said about our thinking about the future. Over the next couple months, we will work as a group to memorize Matthew 6:25-34. Weekly devotional thoughts will be posted with each verse to help jumpstart your own meditation. Below you will find the schedule we will follow, along with a couple of links to verse sheets that you can print out and memorize in either KJV or ESV.
Let's memorize God's Word together, confident that when we master God's Word it master us!
March 31st – Matthew 6:25
April 7th – Matthew 6:26
April 14th – Matthew 6:27-28
April 21st – Matthew 6:29
April 28th – Matthew 6:30
May 5th – Matthew 6:31
May 12th – Matthew 6:32
May 19th – Matthew 6:33
May 26th - Matthew 6:34