One of the Hardest Verses in the Bible and Why it’s Important

John said, “I think you need to do a Matthew 18:15.”

No, no, NO!  Anything but that!  Not that Uncomfortable Thing.  Not that Truth-Telling thing.  Not admitting that someone has the power to actually ding me.

“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again.” Mt. 18:15, 16 MSG

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Those are some of the sentences I’d like to cut out of my Bible.

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#SOTM2013 and Whatever is True…

I am about as good at memorizing as the Kardashians are at staying out of the news.

Basically, terrible.

I didn’t grow up with Awana, but I hear rumors about gold stars or badges and “sword drills” and I imagine competition is involved which I usually love, but in this case it scares me and makes me think if I had Awana-ed I might have more issues to deal with than I already do.

However, God is incredibly gracious and a miracle-worker to boot.

So when I was 23 years old on a mountain path in the Swiss Alps at dusk one evening, all sobbed out and at the end of my faith rope, it was Scripture I knew that God brought to mind to speak to me.

“God is near to the broken-hearted and saves those crushed in spirit.”

“I will never leave you or forsake you.”

As clearly and as lovingly as if He was holding me and speaking, those were the words I heard.

Miracle-worker indeed.

Could I have given you chapter and verse?  No.  But that wasn’t the part God wanted to use.

Over and over again in the years since that crisis of faith, God has brought to mind just the right words from Scripture at just the right time to convict, encourage, guide, reassure.

It’s so easy to decide if we can’t do something perfectly, we can’t do it at all.  I mess up chapter and verse, I get words out of order, but somehow God makes it right.  Like songs you listen to over and over on the radio…you may not remember the artist or all of the words exactly, but the chorus?  Or a key line?  They keep coming back.  Maybe they shape us.

I figure it’s hard for God to bring to mind what we haven’t put there in the first place.  So no badges or stars, but when our kids were growing up we tried to memorize Scripture as a family.  At dinner we’d go around the table, each person saying one word of the verse we were trying to memorize.  It would usually go something like this:

Katy: Whatever

Maggie: is

Laura: true

John: ….??  nice!?? helpful!?? interesting!?? Rats!

Katy and Maggie would crack up as their pastor father was most often the first family member to mess up and need a hint.

This week, my friend Lynne, admitted that her New Year’s resolution was to memorize Matthew 5,6, and 7 – the Sermon on the Mount – in 2013.  But as of the end of March, she hadn’t gotten started and needed some accountability.

A few tweets later (@lynnehybels) and there’s a whole movement of folks committed to memorizing this chunk of Scripture with the hashtag #SOTM2013!  

No, I’m not a great memorizer, but if some small essence of God’s Word becomes more a part of me through this discipline, who knows what He might do with this…what “kingdom come” transformation He might want to do in and through us?  Like Lynne writes,

Maybe we can become givers of mercy and pure-hearted peacemakers. Maybe we can become lights in the darkness. Maybe we can embrace a vision of righteousness that looks more like Jesus than the Pharisees…

I’m in.

And in spite of the fact that both Lynne and I threw John under the bus for his comment about just committing to the Beatitudes, I think I’ve got him hooked too.

Oh, and the verse our family was trying to memorize above?

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent, or praiseworthy.  Think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8)

John got so frustrated, he came up with this pneumonic device: Two neurotic Roman priests lost and eccentric pope.

I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for three whole chapters in SOTM13.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with Scripture memory.  And join us in memorizing the Sermon on the Mount!