The Importance of Hiding God’s Word in Your Heart
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11 NIV BibleHub)
I have to put this out there before I write another word: I am probably the last person that should be writing about this topic in the sense that I am no academic concerning the scripture. Each Thursday morning as I sit at my ladies bible study meeting, I am always throwing out tidbits of scripture phrases and openly admitting that I have forgotten the reference for them (though I’m very well meaning). Or, even worse, I often times remember the general idea or paraphrase, but as I frantically flip through the pages of my little pocket bible, I cannot remember the book, chapter and verse reference. Uh, was that Matthew or Mark, or even Old Testament or New? *insert big ol’ sigh here*
My only hope in these circumstances is that I give some encouragement to others to read God’s word for themselves. Sincerely! Circumstances such as these have made me much more aware of the importance of hiding God’s word in my heart, not only for obedience and my own edification, but also for the true and right instructing of others when those moments pop us, and they will, over and over again.
In a couple hundred years of our human history, we have gone from very limited access of God’s word in the English language to literally hundreds of versions in both print and digital form. What does that mean for the everyday, busy Christian mom, wife, or professional? Well, and I say this much to myself too, you have no excuse for not knowing God’s word. (And, if you like me have a long way to go, that’s okay, don’t stop reading yet…)
When Paul starts his letter to the people in the church of Galatia, one of the things that he addresses is those people in the area coming in to the church atmosphere and distorting Christ’s gospel. I could imagine that this was causing quite a bit of dissension and confusion among believers. In verse 9 of Galatians chapter 1, Paul specifically gives a harsh rebuke for those who may be preaching a Gospel not in line with the one Paul and the apostles delivered to the church earlier through the holy spirit: “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:9 ESV @BibleHub)
Ouch & wow. There’s no mincing words there by Paul. That makes me question myself and my own dedication to God’s word. It isn’t that I would intentionally go around shouting at the roof tops a distorted Gospel to lead my brothers and sisters in Christ astray. I personally don’t feel that I have malicious intentions or selfish ambitions, and I’d like to think that I do consider the interests of others when I speak and act (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV @BibleHub).
However, even though my intentions are not purposeful to distort the Gospel, the cold, hard truth is that if I don’t know the Gospel, don’t read the Gospel, and don’t take time to understand it, then I can not, accurately share with others what I do not know, and in turn there’s chance for distortion and misrepresentation. This is the point when my heart is truly convicted. This is the point when I understand that the very best intentions without knowledge are futile at best and destructive at worst.
“An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15 ESV @BibleHub)
Growing up and becoming a Christian as a teenager to parents who were also fairly new Christians and church-goers did not make for a well-rooted beginning at an early age in God’s word. Saying that, I don’t at all blame my parents or circumstance as I fully believe that God already knew how things would unfold and purposed them for a reason in my life.
However my life circumstances growing up, while having a good intended heart, it gave me a frame of mind that was not initially seeking God’s word – more of a mystical frame of mind that the holy spirit would just provide me with whatever I needed, you know, whenever I needed it, my magic scripture Genie in a bottle – no work required because I was a child of God now. Ugh. *insert forehead slap here* In hindsight, I see the foolishness of this mentality, and although I don’t live in regret, I do wish that I could have spoken a word or two to my 20-something self about studying God’s word with intentions to hide it in my heart and gain real knowledge – studying God’s word with a hunger!
In regards to this mentality that I had in my younger years, one of the ladies at my bible study that I consider a great mentor and long-time Christian, said something one morning that jarred me a bit in respect to learning God’s word. I was mumbling and fumbling over finding a scripture reference and she quickly grabbed her bible and opened it to help with a joyful kindness. (I so appreciate that attitude when I am feeling overwhelmed and like a kindergartner in ladies bible class!)
I don’t remember her exact words, but I do remember as she encouraged me to continue reading & learning scripture and reminded me how the holy spirit who dwells in us also uses us – He uses us and our resources, our body & mind to carry out God’s will in our life. So if we don’t take the time to hide God’s word in our heart, to gain knowledge and understanding, then ladies, we are giving the holy spirit a dried up well to pull water from there!
Best case scenario (which isn’t that great of one either!), you are just floating along not planting God’s word in others (because you don’t know it) and certainly not watering with that empty well for the holy spirit to draw on. Worst case scenario (at least in my mind), you are filling that well with your own ideas of what the scripture should be and not learning the true nature of God and what he expects from you through His words. This is frightening!
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3 NIV @BibleHub)
The NASB words the same verse saying that Jesus is “the exact representation of His nature” or of God’s nature. If we don’t study to learn what Jesus would do, how Jesus would act, how would Jesus want our heart and mind to respond in our circumstances, well then we can not practice that in our daily lives.
The holy spirit is powerful – a helper to be respected as our counselor and guide. Jesus told us, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (Matthew 14:26 @BibleHub) We are accountable for studying, gaining knowledge of the scripture, and providing the water of God’s word within us for the holy spirit to draw from and to use us in making God’s word active in our lives daily.
John the Baptist responds to a Jew questioning about baptism and ceremony, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30 NIV @BibleHub) This statement was on the tale end of a parable about the bridegroom and his friends. His friends were overjoyed when the bridegroom arrived and John felt the same way about Jesus. His joy was complete and he knew that, even if it meant adhering to seemingly “new” revolutionary ways that Jesus taught, the Son of God. John was committed to learning Jesus’ ways and upholding them even when people, like his fellow Jews, questioned him.
For my personal walk, it hasn’t been a journey of malicious intentions that brought me to where I am. There really isn’t an illicit sin or disdain that is within me to distort the Gospel (intentionally so!). No, it has been something much more sneaky, and probably the same to most professing Christians like myself – an apathy to make time to pick up my bible with the excuse of a busy life. Wow, simple and cunning how Satan sneaks in the back door and uses time against us to separate us from the Lord.
I am telling you now that’s a dangerous path. Ask yourself if you are filling your well with the water of God’s word so that you can pour it out on others and be useful to the holy spirit within you? Or is your well dry, or worse yet are you filling that well with something else, your own ideas of who God should be, and pouring it out to represent God’s word when it truly is not the “exact representation of His nature”?
Quite frankly, that last thought scares me in my own personal walk. How easily it is to be that person who’s distorting God’s word, like those disrupting the church in Galatia, simply because you do not take the time to really know God’s word.
Jesus tells us plainly, “the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” (Matthew 15:8 NIV @BibleHub) It is no wonder that we are instructed to hide God’s word in our heart so that we speak and react with them in the nature of God when conflicts, troubles and worries arise. Those scriptures that we take time to consistently learn will save us from hasty actions and the temptations of sins around us later on.
I hope you find some encouragement in these words! If you are reading this and haven’t accepted Jesus as your Savior, I urge you to take that first step immediately and do so. If you are a brother or sister in Christ reading this, I hope it touches your heart and inspires you to read, understand, and even memorize scriptures to hide God’s word in your heart on a regular basis – storing it up to overflow in those moments when you need Him most 🙂
Until next time,
Managing Editor at Indoor Outdoor Space