You want me to do what? Memorize? Ugh!
Whether it is scripture, stories, or ideas found in the Bible, we need a good supply of them in our minds and hearts to live the life God has for us. There is evidence that the best way to maintain the memory of something is to talk about it. It is not enough to merely hear or read it. You must engage in it. When you hear something, you retain about twenty percent, but when you discuss it, you raise that to over three-fold at seventy percent. When you personally experience it you can add another ten percent to bring you up to eighty percent. But here is the exciting thing. When you teach something you remember ninety-five percent. Amazing! Who knew sharing knowledge would be such a benefit to the teacher as well.
God did. In His instructions given to the Israelites on how to maintain a good life, He built it right in. Here’s what He says in Deuteronomy 11:18-21—
Fix these words of mine into your mind and being, and tie them as a reminder on your hands and let them be symbols on your forehead. Teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up. Inscribe them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates so that your days and those of your descendants may be extended in the land which the LORD promised to give to your ancestors, like the days of heaven itself.
In this little piece of scripture, there is found a whole memorization plan for your faith. If you like checklists, these verses form a very nice one.
Fix these words of mine into your mind and being.
The Hebrew word of fix is suwn. It means to put, place, set, appoint or make. The English dictionary describes fix in much the same with an additional idea—to direct the eyes, attention, etc. steadily. What the verse is saying: our minds as well as our hearts should be set in God’s words, not our own. Our attention should be on what He has to say, so that we are familiar with His voice.
and tie them as a reminder on your hands and let them be symbols on your forehead.
We must allow God’s words to direct our thoughts and actions. The word tie in the Hebrew literally means to tie or bind, but it also has the idea of conspiring or forming an alliance. I love that idea. Now, we take those words your attention is fixed on and put them to action. This will form a good team. James tells us to be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it. . . [James 1:22] James even knew God’s words were not going to stick with us unless we experienced them first hand. Our activity makes an imprint on us that just reading and hearing do not. It makes it personal, thus we remember. Jesus Himself says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” [Matthew 7:24] Taking God’s word and putting it into action creates something that lasts.
Teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up.
This is the biggie. This is where we get to retain ninety-five percent of what we hear and read. The word teach is lamad in Hebrew means to learn, teach, and exercise in.
I spent about fifteen years educating my own girls, plus a fair of amount of time teaching other children as well as adults. I have to say out of all the students I’ve taught over the years, I have learned the most. Teaching requires the teacher to absorb the subject. Time is spent mulling over information and ideas, strengthening the knowledge they already possess. Teaching also places value on the possessed information. The more value assigned to the knowledge, the more we will treasure it in our hearts.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 NET
“Inscribe them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
Plaques and pictures loaded with Christian images and sayings are not what I think God is talking about here. Although they can enhance the beauty of our homes and serve as reminders of what we believe, it will be what’s written on our hearts that will tell the world who we are. If we have taken time to store up God’s word, the people we encounter will see it all over our faces and in the works of our hands. They will hear it in our speech. It will spill out into the way we live life.
The payback? Your days and those of your descendants may be . . .like the days of heaven itself. It is saying that if you do these things living a life according to God’s plan can be maintained on into eternity. It will last forever if we just put into practice these simple instructions that will maintain our focus on God while writing His words in our hearts.
My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for they will provide a long and full life, and they will add well-being to you.
Proverbs 3:1-2 NET