I’m a very forgetful person. I frequently misplace my keys or my wallet, I have tough time remembering people’s names, and I have even paid for my groceries and walked out of the store while my grocery bags were still at the register. I have quickly come to realize that I can’t survive without writing down reminders and keeping a “to-do” list.
But a far more serious problem I have is my spiritual forgetfulness. I’ll be convicted by a sermon only to forget it a couple hours later. Some days, I can’t even remember what I read that morning in my personal devotions. I fail to remember God’s presence, praise him for his blessings, pray to him in times of trouble, and trust in him when I’m stressed. I forget God.
But this isn’t just a personal problem, it’s a human problem. Our sinful hearts are naturally inclined to drift away from God’s presence, not towards it.
This is why you can find this repeated command all throughout the Bible: “REMEMBER.”
The children of Israel were told to “remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Deut. 5:15). They were told to “remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness” (Deut. 9:7). The Psalmist declared, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” Jesus constantly exhorted his disciples to “remember the word that I said to you” (Matt. 16:9; Mark 8:18; Jn 15:20; 16:4).
Yet, we forget. We get caught up in either the craziness or the comfort of life and act as if God doesn’t exist. We forget to pray. We forget to praise. We forget to remember.
But how is a forgetful, sinful guy like me supposed to remember God? I think the answer the Bible presents is this: don’t give yourself the chance to forget.
When God commanded the children of Israel to remember his works, he knew they were a forgetful people; in fact, they were so forgetful that he told them to write reminders on their hands and on their doorposts. He even told them to put reminders right between their eyes (Deut. 6:8-9). He told them to talk about his commands when they were relaxing at home and when they were busy throughout the day. He told them to talk about them before they went to bed and right when they got up in the morning (Deut. 6:7). They were commanded to wear tassels on their clothes for them to “look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after” (Num. 15:39).
God sees our forgetful hearts and knows that we are dust. He knows that if we are not constantly reminded of his works and his commands, we will be inclined to pursue our own sinful flesh. Perhaps this is why the author of Hebrews exhorted his readers to “exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13). This implies that it could take as little as 24 hours for your heart to go from spiritual fervency to spiritual hardness. That’s how forgetful we are.
Are you giving yourself a chance to forget God, or do you surround yourself with reminders of God’s goodness every single day? In our day and age, we have every excuse to forget God; yet, we have no excuse. Yes, distractions are legion. Competing desires and responsibilities try to tug at our heart. But the variety of means and tools at our disposal give us no excuse to forget God. In fact, the very things that tend to distract us from God could be the means by which we can remember him: car radios, smart phones, earbuds, texting, podcasts--what if we used these things to help us stay in God’s presence instead of driving us away from it?
How are you surrounding yourself with God’s truth? Do you realize that the truths for which you are praising God today might be forgotten tomorrow? How often are you reading/listening to God’s Word? Is it limited to your morning devotions, or do you remind yourself of it throughout the day? How often are you speaking God’s Word? Are you exhorting and being exhorted by fellow believers on a daily basis? Are you part of a local church that is characterized by discipleship and faithful preaching? You will forget God if you give yourself the chance, so don’t give yourself that chance.
Get creative! It could be as simple as writing a verse reference on your hand or a 3x5 card. It could be as involved as hosting a weekly bible study with fellow believers. Listen to godly music in the car. Subscribe to a theologically sound podcast. Make it a point to share what you have learned in your personal Bible reading with your spouse, your sibling, or your friend. Fill in the free moments in your day with extra Bible reading. And surround yourself with fellow believers who are doing the same thing.
Yes, I’m a very forgetful guy, but that won’t be a problem if I never give myself the chance to forget. So let me ask you, how do you keep yourself from forgetting God?
Aaron Berry earned both his undergrad and MA in Bible at Bob Jones University. He, along with his wife, Hanna, and daughter, Brooklyn, currently live in Detroit, MI, where Aaron is pursuing his MDiv degree while serving as the Director of Recruitment at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary and working on staff at Inter-City Baptist Church. You can follow him on twitter @AaronMBerry
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