Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Importance of Memory

"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth …—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ …" (Ephesians 2:11–12).

Memory is a tricky thing. We remember the things that are important to us, the things that we use all the time. We forget things we never use, as most of us forget advanced math or a foreign language we studied in high school. Moreover, we can adjust our memories, falsifying them by exaggerating our times of triumph or magnifying the wrongs we have suffered at the hands of others.

One of the great motivators to righteousness is gratitude toward God, but we will lose our gratitude rapidly if we do not remember accurately what He has done for us. When God delivered Israel from Egypt, the Israelites were grateful and praised Him. But only a few weeks later they were asking, “What have You done for us lately?” They had forgotten how bad it was in Egypt. They had forgotten the plagues and the parting of the sea. And so they did not trust God, and they wanted to go back to Egypt.

Throughout the Old Testament, God set up memorials. Sometimes these memorials were to remind Him (not that He forgets, but to set an example for His people). Others were to remind the people. The sacraments are such reminders. The most comprehensive of these reminders is the Bible. God commanded that the Bible be read and studied so that the people would not forget.

Bible study reminds us of what we were apart from Christ: dead in sin and under God’s wrath. Even if you cannot remember a time when you were not a believer, you are still to remember that apart from grace, you would have been no better off than anyone else. The Bible reminds us of what He did for us. Bible study should humble us, correcting the false memories we dream up that inflate our pride or justify our bad attitudes.

God reminds us through the Bible. He reminds us of how He brought us out of Egypt and into the kingdom, and this should fill us with renewed gratitude. As we are grateful, we want to thank God and to please Him. The result will be lives obedient to His Law and productive in His service.

Memory is also moral. It is surprising how easily we forget to have daily prayer, while we remember all kinds of other things. It is amazing how easily we remember worldly things while we find it hard to memorize Bible passages. Retrain your memories by focusing on the great works of God in the Bible.1993), 44.