Last month I began sharing our family’s personal experience and application of Scripture memory in the Mom’s Corner. I believe that most of us, as Christians, have a desire to memorize the Word and to help our children memorize it as well. As Psalms 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” When we have Scripture embedded in our hearts through memorizing, we have it available day or night to guide our thoughts and actions.
In response to last month’s Mom’s Corner where I explained how I had worked with our preschoolers as they memorized verses, a mom wrote with additional suggestions for preschool Scripture memory. First she suggested having the children do something active while they were memorizing such as jumping up and down. Her second idea was to put hand motions and actions with the words. I wrote back to her and explained to her what had happened to us when we tried these memorizing methods when our children were small.
We found our children didn’t memorize as well doing something else such as jumping up and down. They laughed, giggled, and were quite occupied with jumping, but they didn’t get much Scripture memory accomplished. I was frustrated trying to get them to memorize when they wanted to play. We were more successful when I had one child sitting on my lap receiving individual attention without other distractions.
We also tried memorizing some of their verses with actions, but they didn’t learn them any faster than when we worked on them without actions. As a matter of fact, two things happened with the actions. First my preschoolers would give more of a focus to the hand motions than to learning the verse that accompanied those actions, and they become very silly over them as well. Another problem was that they would often forget the hand motions, so now we had two sets of things to memorize—the verse and what actions went with it.
While I understand that some would want to try to make memorizing Scripture fun and entertaining for a preschooler, we preferred to use time that I was one-on-one with a child to help him begin to learn self-control in being quiet, sitting still, and concentrating for a few short minutes. As preschoolers, the children had ample hours in their day to play but not nearly as much time to be with Mommy where she was completely centered on them, giving individual direction and help in developing some discipline. Self-discipline has to start somewhere, and how much easier it is to begin at a young age than to try to overcome the bad habits of self-indulgence later in life.
Will our little children be able to understand the verses that they memorize? Some they will, and some they won’t. We liked the preschool Scripture memory books from Scripture Memory Fellowship because they had done the work of choosing verses that were applicable to young children and ones that were simple. Sometimes Scripture memory doesn’t happen simply because we cannot figure out what to have our children memorize.
Another way that our children learn and remember Scripture verses is by Steve and me using verses in daily life. For example, Steve often quotes to his family and to others Matthew 16:24: “. . . If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Because of that, our family has learned Matthew 16:24 without trying to memorize it, and we regularly mention it to each other when we need encouragement to move our thoughts off of ourselves. We can also use it when talking with people outside the family.
Here is another example of learning Scripture by using it. Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” That is a verse I share regularly with my children if their words or attitudes take on a grumbly tone. The more we apply the Word to our daily lives, the more we and our children will become familiar with it, and the more likely we will be to memorize those verses that we are using in those contexts.
I have heard some say that we should not use Scripture to correct our children. They indicate that if we bring Scripture into discipline situations, we will give our children a negative view of God. However, 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Our basis for what is right and what is wrong is based in the Word. If we don’t use the Word to explain to our children what the Lord wants them to do, why they were wrong, and what to do about it, then our reason for any rebuke or correction is simply our personal whim.
What we think is vitally important when using Scripture to correct a child is the spirit in which it is done. If a mom is angry or harsh, then she will undermine anything positive that she would like to accomplish in her disciplining. However, if our spirits are gentle and sweet as we explain to our children that we want to obey the Word because we love Jesus, and we know that His will for our lives is the best way to live, we are building into our children’s lives a reason to obey and a desire to obey.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). We want our children to see the Word as the direction for their lives, and we want them even to welcome chastening from the Lord. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6). We believe that begins with receiving reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness from the Word. A side benefit from regular use of Scripture as we correct our children is that they will memorize verses that have specific application to problem areas in their lives.
In 2 Timothy 3:15 when Paul is talking about Timothy, he says, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” We want for our children to know the Word, and one way for this to happen is by memorizing the Word. Then our children will have a spiritual tool to be able to use in their lives to draw their hearts closer to the Lord Jesus, to help them choose obedience to the Word, and to direct them toward the blessing of others. Next month I plan to conclude the discussion of Scripture memory and move into Bible copying.