Every so often I get back on a kick and want to memorize the whole New Testament. I think, “Hey, if I still have several years ahead of me [itself uncertain], it is entirely possible. And how beneficial it would be!”
The only problem is, I had these sentiments 7 years ago, 4 years ago, 2 years ago, etc. What if I had actually followed through starting 7 years ago? And will I actually follow through now?
On the one hand I shouldn’t be too hard on myself since my study in the Bible and related disciplines required for detailed study of the Bible (linguistics, biblical languages, hermeneutics, exegesis, theology, etc.) that has gone on since then has prepared me to be a better interpreter of the Bible today. But, what if the whole NT was already sitting there in my head, ready to be chewed on at any moment?
Charles Swindoll has said it well: “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture…” (Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], p. 61).
But even if the whole NT seems daunting at the moment, memorizing portions cannot be a waste of time.
A few years ago I wrote up these ten benefits I was finding to memorizing scripture:
1) I’m forced to dig deeper into the wording. Memorizing a sentence requires reading it over many times and saying it over many times.
2) I’m understanding the flow of the author’s arguments much more clearly.
3) Memorizing whole chapters or books is helping me gain context for that whole chapter or book, necessary for understanding the small bits too.
4) I am getting better at cross-referencing Scripture. When I read in 1 Peter 3:1-7 about proper understanding of husbands and wives, immediately my memorization in Ephesians 5:22-33, where it discusses the same subject matter, comes to mind with which to help me interpret.
5) My language learning skills have grown immensely. I’m finding it near impossible to go into a Greek quiz or test and expect to get anything less than 100% because of straight-up memorization.
6) I’m growing more in love with God’s Word as I store it up in my heart.
7) I’m becoming better at combating heresy and I’m becoming more effective as an evangelist.
8) It is growing my thought life and ability to handle more and more difficult texts.
9) It is multiplying my devotional time by allowing me to go through Scripture in my head at any time and meditate on it.
10) And to borrow a reason from John Piper: Conformity to Christ.
There are other benefits but this will suffice for now. These goals are attainable. It just takes time to develop the good habit of sitting down and going for it every day.