The title of this post is probably not what you might expect from a Bible teacher.
Bible study is important. No, it’s more than important, it’s critical. But studying the Bible for the purpose of quoting it or making memes or posters with Bible verses isn’t enough. Memorizing it or parsing Greek and Hebrew verbs is not the end game for the Christian.
Don’t get me wrong. Of course we should memorize Scripture. And studying the original language is often helpful in understanding our modern English translations. But why do we memorize it? Is our goal to build intellectual storehouses of facts to establish our expertise in all things biblical?
What does the Bible say about what we should do with its content?
- “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV).
- “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1 ESV).
- “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things…” (Philippians 4:9 ESV).
- “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18 ESV).
- “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22 ESV).
Jesus had much to say on this subject, including:
- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21 ESV).
- “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46 ESV)
- “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15 ESV).
So where do we get the idea that God is pleased when we study and memorize His Word without obeying it? I’m the first to plead guilty as charged. Still, I don’t want to just admit my fault. I want to change the way I live, starting today. To quote a popular advertisement, I want to “just do it.”
Francis Chan illustrates this beautifully in this video clip. When he tells his daughter to clean her room, he does not expect her to return an hour later, proclaiming, “Dad, I memorized what you said.” Or announcing that she invited several friends to come study what he meant by that. And he certainly doesn’t expect her to brag that she can translate his command into Greek or Hebrew. No. What he expects is that she’ll do what he told her to do: clean her room.
We are called to speak the truth in love. But in order to speak the truth, we must know the truth and live the truth. No one said it would be easy. But it’s not optional, either.
What are you doing with your Bible knowledge?