Have you ever noticed that the wise sayings we hear early in life that really stick with us and make an impact are ultra short? We call them nuggets of wisdom because they’re like little pieces of gold we pick up, admire, put in our pockets, and carry with us forever.
- “Practice makes perfect.”
- “Honesty is the best policy.”
- “Actions speak louder than words.”
- “Laughter is the best medicine.”
- “Look before you leap.”
- “No pain, no gain.”
- “Waste not, want not.”
One of the best ways to help children get started in the habit of memorizing God’s Word is to begin with super short—yet very powerful—Scripture quotes. The Bible is full of them! They’re packed with wisdom, and they’re so easy to remember.
- “Do what is right” (Deut. 6:18).
- “Let your light shine” (Matt. 5:16).
- “God will be with you” (Josh. 1:9).
- “Guard your heart” (Prov. 4:23).
- “Forgive one another” (Col. 3:13).
- “Do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).
- “Put your hope in God” (Ps. 42:5).
I call these Bible Gems, or Gemstones. You can have a lot of fun as a family learning them, and the truths they contain are just as relevant for adults as they are for kids.
The thing is, though, it’s not just about memorizing words, is it? As parents, we don’t just want our children to learn to recite a memory verse; we want them to understand what it means, embrace its truth, and put it into practice.
With these goals in mind, here are five keys to helping children store up and treasure God’s Word in their hearts.
- Memorize Them
Read a Bible story to your kids that either contains the Scripture quote you want to teach them or illustrates the principle in it. One of my favorite examples of this is the story of David and Goliath, in which the brave young shepherd declares to the giant, “There is a God” (1 Sam. 17:46) and then defeats him to prove it.
Play games and do activities together to get kids excited about Scripture memory. For instance, introduce a Bible Gem by writing it in a secret code and then giving your children the key to decoding it, such as a cardboard wheel they can turn to line up numbers with letters.
- Think about Them
Ask your children questions to help them ponder the meaning of the Scripture quotes they are learning. In the morning, encourage them to look for ways that these truths from the Bible relate to their lives during the day. Tell them that at dinnertime, you’ll want to hear about what they discovered!
Post reminders of the Gemstone quotes around the house, or slip Bible Gem notecards into your kids’ backpacks or lunchboxes. Write the Gem of the week on the bathroom mirror with a dry-erase marker, a bar of soap, or shaving cream.
- Talk about Them
Look for opportunities to discuss Bible Gems wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. Make talking about them a natural part of your daily conversations. When you talk about movies, TV shows, books, or the news, ask your children whether the characters or people in them followed biblical principles such as “Overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21) and “Value others above yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
- Pray about Them
Each time you teach your children a new Bible Gem, be sure to pray with them about it. Encourage them to pray on their own, asking God to help them more deeply understand the Scripture quote, remember it, and put it into practice. And remind them to pray for family members, friends, and classmates regarding the biblical truths they’ve learned.
Teach your kids to turn Gemstone quotes, like “Live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6), into short, powerful prayers, such as “Jesus, help me live like you.”
- Live Them Out
Here’s where the rubber meets the road—helping children to not only memorize God’s Word but also “do what it says” (James 1:22)!
Give your kids a sticker to put on a chart to record how many times they obey the Bible Gem “Honor your father and mother” (Eph. 6:2). Reward them with a special treat when they fill up the chart.
After teaching your children “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7), brainstorm with them ways they can give joyfully. Maybe you can take them to the store so they can buy some fun, colorful pencils with their own money, to give away to kids at school whenever they need something to write with.
Bible Gems are fun and easy to learn, yet so life-changing! They are a wonderful way to help your children develop the valuable habit of Scripture memory.
There are more ideas and suggestions for using Bible Gems with your children in the Parent and Educator Guide.