Beyond “Recitation”


I remember, as an adolescent, entering a Scripture memory contest in my hometown. Obviously, the object was to memorize more scriptures than anyone else.

I won that contest, and by a large margin (though I did misquote one…).

Being a PK (preacher’s kid), obviously I knew a lot of scripture. Even when I wasn’t trying to memorize, it happened by default. It came easy for me, even the language. My sister and I even spoke to each other in Elizabethan English, for fun. (Those were the days when people thought only the King James Version was the “real” Bible.)

How art thou, O, my sister?

Verily, I hunger. Hast thou any cookies in thine possession?

(Don’t laugh; we still do this on occasion.)

But does learning all that scripture really have any value? Well, that depends. If scripture memory stops at the recitation thereof, then no. One can know every scripture in the Bible—and be able to spew them out at a moment’s notice—and still produce no fruit. It’s through the living-out of it that lives are changed.

We’ve all known judgmental, finger-pointing people who could shoot out Bible verses like darts—but didn’t have the love of Christ that a doorknob possesses.

That’s why we as preachers and teachers must not only encourage those we shepherd to memorize God’s Word, but also teach them how to live it out, and especially our own kids. Preachers’ kids (I should know) are notorious for knowing all the right words, but not necessarily having the right “stuff”—love, joy, peace, patience . . .

Pastors, make sure that in teaching your flock how to live out the Bible, you don’t neglect to teach your kids how. Maybe there’s a reason people mutter, “Preachers’ kids are the worst kind.” We all know the story of Eli and his sons. ’Nuff said.

We all want our kids to know the Bible, but we want them to “get” it too. I have a friend who gets it. Dianne, like me, was raised in a pastor’s home. And she can quote scriptures all day long. But she’s also the most giving person I know. Everything she does, she does with an eye on helping others. How can I add value to that person’s life? What can I sacrifice for others today? Of course I can’t read her thoughts, but I imagine that those are the kinds of questions she asks herself. She knows God’s Word, quotes God’s Word, teaches God’s Word . . . and lives it out for others to see and replicate.

So, as we teach our children—and our churches—let’s be sure we’re not creating a generation of “Scripture spammers.” Give them opportunities to see Scripture in practice and teach them to put it into practice. God wants us all to be doers of the Word, not just hearers.

Or reciters.

See James 4:22.

by Renee Chavez

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