The Power of Hiding God’s Word in Our Hearts
By Heather Cofer
I sat on the edge of my bed late one afternoon, the tears flowing fast. I could feel it rising—the hurt, the indignation, the anger. I couldn’t understand how someone could be so insensitive and uncaring, not even realizing they had hurt me so much. In that moment, I felt completely justified to let the bitterness settle in and plant its roots into my heart. It was so tempting to nurse the sense of injustice and withhold forgiveness, just so they might feel some of the sting they had inflicted on me. But right in the middle of this treacherous line of thought broke another like a shaft of light:
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:14-15
It seemed to come out of nowhere. But I knew that the Lord was the One who had brought it to mind in that moment. Somewhere along the line that Scripture had been tucked away in my heart, and when I was faced with the temptation not to forgive this fellow believer, the Holy Spirit had unearthed it just when I needed it. In His love and mercy, God had given me a way out of that downward spiral into bitterness by bringing truth to mind—His Word that had been hidden in my heart. And by His grace, I chose forgiveness that day rather than the destructive path I would have otherwise walked down.
We live in an age where Scripture is so easily accessible. Most of us have multiple Bibles sitting on our bookshelves, and many of us have it available at the tap of a fingertip, whether that be a phone or computer. Not to mention all the online resources that help us with instant word searches, Hebrew and Greek Lexicons, and more. So why is it important for us as Christians in the 21st century to memorize Scripture? Why does it need to be hidden in our hearts when it’s almost always close at hand?
Psalm 119:9-11 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
Scripture is not simply helpful life advice. It’s not just a list of rules to follow. It is the Word of the One True God, given to us that we might know Him, love Him, and obey Him out of that love. Scripture is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…” (Hebrews 4:12). So when we are faithful to hide it in our hearts, God is faithful to transform us with it. It becomes a way of escape when we’re faced with the temptation to sin. It is there when we need to encourage a fellow believer to look to Jesus. It is ready at hand when we’re asked about “the hope that is in [us]” (1 Peter 3:15) as Holy Spirit brings it to our lips to testify of our Savior. It protects us from falling for the messages this world is trying to feed us every single day as we’re inundated with lies that the Enemy tries to call truth.
There isn’t always time to stop what we’re doing and look up the right verse for that moment. There may come a time when our Bibles are taken from us, banned from being openly read as it has been in so many countries in the world. And it’s in those moments when the way we have approached Scripture will truly matter. Will we find ourselves in a spiritual famine, unprepared for what we are facing? Or will we be ready, full of God’s living and active Word that serves as a lifeline of grace for every single moment?
Jen Wilkin, a writer and women’s Bible study teacher said it this way, “For years I viewed my interaction with the Bible as a debit account: I had a need, so I went to the Bible to withdraw an answer. But we do much better to view our interaction with the Bible as a savings account: I stretch my understanding daily, I deposit what I glean, and I patiently wait for it to accumulate in value, knowing that one day I will need to draw on it.” (Jen Wilkin, Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible With Both Our Hearts and Our Minds)
A woman who is full of Scripture can be used as a mighty tool in the hands of God to advance His Kingdom on earth. She becomes a threat to the Enemy as she stands against the lies and speaks truth and life to those who are yet in darkness. She becomes a testimony of God’s power as her life is transformed into a picture of victory over sin, joy in every circumstance, and peace that surpasses all understanding. A woman who is grounded in the rock-solid truth of God’s Word as she has faithfully and diligently studied, meditated on, and hidden it in her heart will never be shaken in her faith, no matter what circumstances come her way. And this is exactly the kind of women God wants to make each of us into—the kind of women this world so desperately needs.
If you’re unsure of where to start, here are a few practical ways to begin.
If you’ve never memorized Scripture before, the prospect of it can feel rather intimidating. I would encourage you to start small. Pick a verse from Proverbs or one of the Epistles (Philippians and Colossians are some of the first I began to memorize from). Don’t rush the process—start simply, one verse at a time. Repeat it over and over until it sticks. Allow the Lord to grow your capacity as you are faithful to take steps of obedience in this area.
Have “Fighter Verses”
My husband and I have verses we memorize to strategically combat sins in our lives that are particularly difficult to overcome (these could be called “besetting sins”). We’ve termed these verses our “fighter verses” because we wield them as weapons when the temptation comes on strongly, as it’s bound to do. For me, one of these deep-rooted struggles has been fear, so I have several verses memorized that specifically target this. It fills my mind with truth rather than allowing it to be overtaken by anxiety, and I tell you what, I have seen the Lord use it in incredible ways in my own life.
Whatever the particular sin(s), whether fear, doubt, lust, bitterness, anger, or anything else, God can use Scripture to help us overcome right in the moment when it feels too much to resist.
Over the years, some of the most substantial portions of Scripture I’ve memorized has been with others. I memorized the entire book of Philippians in high school with my mom and siblings. In recent years, I’ve done it with my own husband and children. There is something about doing it with others that provides accountability and added motivation. It can become a fun and fulfilling challenge to have a goal like that to work toward together.
Maybe it’s a friend, a sibling, or a spouse. Pray about who you might be able to ask to memorize Scripture with you. It will become a way both of you can be strengthened in and drawn towards God together.
Friend, let’s not fall for the idea that memorizing Scripture is unnecessary, outdated, or legalistic. May we not be lazy in our pursuit of knowing God, loving God, and obeying God by pouring over His Word and engraining it deeply into our hearts and minds. Let us treat God’s Word like the treasure it is, valuing and cherishing it as more precious than gold. The more we spend time in the Bible, the more we will love it, understand it, and be able to discern light from darkness as the Holy Spirit uses it to transform us from the inside out.
Heather Cofer is a wife and mother with a passion for encouraging others to love Jesus with all their hearts. This comes through writing and being actively involved in life-on-life discipleship alongside her husband, Judah, who is one of the pastors at their church. She is a regular contributor for the ministry of Set Apart Girl, as well as a guest contributor to several other websites. Heather is a (Canada born) Colorado native, but spent most of her childhood in the country of Mongolia with her parents and seven siblings, which is where she and Judah met after his family also moved there several years later. They currently live in Northern Colorado, near the beautiful Rocky Mountains. You can follow along on Heather’s journey through her Instagram or Facebook.