One of the amazing things about being human is our wonderful capacity to communicate, our ability to understand words. The portion of our brains that is dedicated to language is huge. Learning to speak is one of the most complicated things we ever learn to do. God specifically designed us to be able to communicate both with each other and with him so we can be in relationship with each other. It is no wonder that Jesus is called “the Word” (John 1:1), because he is God in the flesh, God communicating verbally and in action with us.
A consistent theme in the Bible is that God tells us to speak to others about what he has said to us. We aren’t to keep his Word to ourselves. Instead, his Word is to be on our lips and we are to speak Scripture to one another. A very important passage in the Bible is called the Shema (the Hebrew word for “hear”), found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. It is the passage that Jesus partially uses to develop the Great Commandment, where we are called to love God and to love others (Mark 12:28-33). As you read the Shema below, you’ll see that part of the process of loving God is to teach the commandments of God (i.e., his Word, the Bible) by talking about them throughout our entire day.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
How do we “impress” God’s Word on others? We talk about the Bible wherever we are while doing whatever we’re doing. It isn’t just in the Shema that God calls us to speak Scripture. (See the “Selected Verses on Speaking God’s Word” sidebar↗ for more passages about having God’s Word on our lips.)
Benefits of Speaking Scripture
There are many benefits to be gained by sharing Scripture with other people. One of the first benefits is to the person who speaks Scripture to others. By adding Scripture to our daily conversation it helps us deepen our engagement and understanding of a passage. As we discuss a passage with others, it helps us fine tune what we think about what is written, helping us to grow in our relationship with God. In his journal article on daily engagement with the Scriptures (see reference below), Joseph Crockett explains that when people talk about Scripture they are opened up to brand new ideas about what God is teaching those around them. Individual people are made aware of different ideas that are held by others and are able to discuss them to come to a deeper understanding of what the actual Scripture passage means.
Research on Scripture engagement done at the Taylor University Center for Scripture Engagement found a very strong correlation between higher levels of Spiritual growth and more conversations with friends about Scripture. Because of the nature of the research, it isn’t possible to discern if spiritually mature people naturally have more conversations about the Bible, or if having more Bible conversations causes people to be more spiritually mature. Either way, increasing our conversations about Scriptures strikes me as beneficial!
Along with personal growth, speaking Scripture to other believers may be a tool God uses to speak into the lives of those around us. A friend may be struggling with an issue or just need some encouragement, and a piece of Scripture may be just what the Holy Spirit wants us to share with the other person. Our personal advice might be helpful, but surely God’s Word is what the other person truly needs. As you talk about Scripture with a Christian friend your relationship will also be deepened. As the church, we learn from and grow closer to each other as we speak about God’s Word.
Speaking Scripture to others can also be used in evangelism. I don’t mean just giving people passages about how to become a Christian (which is critical at the appropriate time). Instead, sharing with a nonbeliever about what you’re learning from the Bible may open up a conversation with someone God may be encouraging you to have a spiritual influence upon. Research says that many people who are not followers of Christ actually self-report having a real interest in knowing more about what the Bible has to say (remember also Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40). Many nonbelievers can benefit from our gently and respectfully sharing what the Bible actually says (1 Peter 3:15).
How Do We Speak Scripture?
There isn’t a magic formula for how we speak Scripture into each other’s lives. The Shema passage gives us a guideline in showing us that we can speak Scripture at any time and any place. It really shouldn’t be made into a complicated or unnatural process. If our lives are soaking in the Word of God, our minds will be reminded throughout the day of passages that relate to the experiences we are having. Using wisdom and courage given by the Holy Spirit we pick appropriate times to bring up a passage and share it with those around us. In sharing God’s Word we are sharing God himself, and it is really a wonderful gift we can give to others.
Crockett, Joseph V. "Engaging Scripture In Everyday Situations: An Interactive Perspective That Examines Psychological And Social Processes Of Individuals As They Engage Scripture Texts." Black Theology: An International Journal 3.1 (2005): 97-117. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.