The Wrong Reasons For Memorizing Scripture

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Here are the top 7 wrong reasons to memorize scripture:

  1. Because the group does it and demands it. One man I know confessed to his businessmen’s group, “I was memorizing new verses because I knew I’d have to recite one each Friday. I finally just stopped. I felt that was legalism.” He was right. If his only reason was to impress a group of men in his Friday Bible study, he was memorizing for the wrong reason.
  2. Because I’ll get an award. Awards for children in Pioneer Clubs and Awana groups are strong motivators. But sooner or later you have to move beyond “lollipop motivation.” Whether the lollipop is a little patch to sew on your sleeve or a trip to Paris really doesn’t matter. It’s not the kind of motivation God desires.
  3. Because someone I respect does it. Maybe you want to be like someone who has memorized a vast amount of Scripture. Fine, but you’d better find stronger reasons or you’ll give up when that person ceases to be an important example for your life.
  4. Because my pastor said to do it. The pastor may have said such a thing, but why did he say it? You have to get beyond the pastor and back to God’s truth, or it won’t last.
  5. It’s sort of a family thing. Traditions, family or otherwise, are great. But again, you have to get past them to the foundational reasons for the behavior.
  6. Because I think it will make me more spiritual. Indeed it will help you grow spiritually. But simply memorizing Scripture isn’t what makes a person spiritual or mature. It’s the application of Scripture to life that matters.
  7. Because I want to win arguments. Strangely enough, some people memorize Scripture so that they can whip others in theological or evangelistic debates. It’s certainly wise to know what you believe and why, but becoming a “walking Bible concordance” is not the purpose of Scripture memorization.

If you want to memorize Scripture but aren’t sure what to memorize or how, take a look at the Topical Memory System created by the Navigators. It’s the perfect launch point to begin hiding God’s Word in your heart. It’s simple and easy-to-use — and will help you memorize key verses that point to basic truths and important instruction.

The 7 reasons listed above were written by Mark Littleton and originaly published in issue 62 of Discipleship Journal.

9 thoughts on “The Wrong Reasons For Memorizing Scripture”

  1. I agree that all those are “wrong reasons” to move past. And that’s the key: move past. The fact is all those are good reasons to start memorizing scripture. We have to start with where people are, help them do the right thing, and pray that they grow into “proper” motivation.

    • I agree, Bob. I once was in a discipling relationship with a woman whom I suspected wanted to meet with me primarily (and possibly only) to please her boyfriend. That’s when Phil. 1:18 became personal. It says, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

  2. This list is a strange thing, as it discourages people from memorizing God’s Word. What will be next? The Wrong Reasons to go to Sunday School? The Wrong Reason to Worship? It’s strange to say that memorizing God’s Word can be done in a wrong way. One never knows when a memorized passage may come back to one’s mind — and heart — at the perfect, even if he memorized it in a structured program or from peer pressure. God’s Word committed to memory is a vital and powerful tool for a believer, no matter how or why it got there.

    • I don’t think he is saying don’t memorize. You can memorize the entire bible, but if your heart is not right, than why are you doing it. It’s the same going to church is hearing the word of God, your heart is not change. Doing these things is not going to help you anymore than not doing the. Only God can change your heart. You have to be a willing vessel

  3. I agree with the last comment made in reguard to memirization. Who knows that had it not been for some of the 7 reasons many would’ve never even attempted to learn tge Word.

  4. In the bio of Dawson “Daws” pages 29-30 Trotman memorized 20 verses for a contest and the Holy Spirit used John 5:24 to lead to his salvation. It was week three of the contest and he was just walking to work!

  5. Our motives are seldom, if ever, pure. We all have some form of mixture, whether it is peer pressure or looking forward to a reward. Those can be positive factors in helping us do a very good thing from (ultimately) a right motivation. Good point that we must not have these above listed reasons as our sole motivators. But just because they may be present in some form or level, doesn’t necessarily mean we should stop hiding God’s Word in our heart.

  6. Thanks for all your comments! To give some context for this article. This was taken from a section of an issue of Discipleship Journal that was all about the benefits of scripture memorization. So it’s not trying to discourage scripture memorization as much as it is reminding readers to reflect on our motives in a more humorous way. The author and the Navigators are overwhelmingly for scripture memorization, which is why we linked the Topical Memory System in the article.


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