Have you ever been unprepared for something? Maybe it was a test you forgot to study for. Or an important game and you forgot your uniform. Whatever the occasion, most of us can remember a time when we entered a situation without proper preparation. The outcome was probably not pretty–a performance that was less than impressive, disappointing or even totally disastrous. And the worst part is that you knew it could have gone much better, had you just prepared a little more.
Sometimes, I think we experience this as we try to live out our faith. We have opportunities to serve another person or refuse temptation or share Christ with someone, but when we get into the situation we find that we don’t handle it well at all. We don’t have the right words to say or know exactly the right decisions to make. The end result is the sad knowledge that our performance was, at best, disappointing.
The Christian life, like any other activity, requires preparation if you want to excel. Just as you wouldn’t jump into a pool if you hadn’t learned how to swim, you can’t expect to share Christ like Paul or endure temptation like Joseph if you haven’t learned how to do those things. In 2 Timothy, Paul says that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable…that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God’s Word is how you get prepared to live life in a way that pleases Him. He designed it to be that for you. Scripture “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” (2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible is our standard for what to believe, how to act, and how to excel in living for Christ. If we don’t know what it says, then we are sadly unprepared to live well.
Another part of preparation is discipline. Athletes who compete seriously don’t just show up at competitions and expect to win. They practice constantly and are always seeking to improve. Learning how to play a sport is just the first step to becoming a great athlete. So it is with us. Paul says that we “must continue in the things which [we] have learned and been assured of…” (2 Tim. 3:14). Having a basic knowledge of the gospel and salvation and faith is a fine place to start, but you can’t stop there. We have to continue growing in the knowledge and understanding of God’s Word, because without it we’re still fairly unprepared.
One of the best ways to prepare yourself using God’s Word is to memorize it. I know, I know–your brain is wrung out by school. No more memorizing! There’s no more room in there! Well, you’d be amazed what your brain is capable of. Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” The psalmist recognized that he needed to know God’s Word in order to fight sin’s temptations. Not just know it a little–have it memorized. Written on his heart. When he was confronted with a confusing situation, he knew that he wouldn’t always have time to run to his Bible and look something up. Memorizing God’s Word gave him immediate access to truth.
If you’ve never attempted to memorize a Bible verse, that’s okay. It’s not too late to start. All you need are some note cards and some dedication. Write a verse on your note card and carry it with you everywhere. Make it a point to look at it several times during the day. The more you see it, the more it will stick with you.
Begin with memorizing one verse per week. If that’s too hard, do one verse every two weeks or even every month. The goal isn’t to memorize an astonishing amount of verses, but to get familiar with God’s Word. You’ll be amazed how often God brings His Word to your mind when you need it. If you want to get serious about living in a way that honors the Lord, start preparing. He’s given you all the equipment you need.