We spend a lot of time and mental energy remembering. Often, I drift to my to-do list, the meal I’m cooking for dinner, or a phone call I need to make. Sometimes, I ruminate. It’s just like me to get stuck on an idea or memory and go over it again and again like a broken record.
I like this definition of ruminate: to chew repeatedly for an extended period of time. When I get stuck just chewing on a memory, it’s usually something that leaves a bitter taste. It’s usually something better left in the past. We’ve talked about that here recently.
Weeks ago, I started ruminating—in a good way—about that word: Remember. I wanted to know what God means when He says, “Remember.” Some of us have the tendency to apply our habits and ways of thinking to the verses in the Bible that tell us to “Remember.”
Sometimes, we think remembering is taking note of a passing thought rather than meditating—we think of “remember” as a one and done. Once we remember it, we can take care of that task or person and move on. Then we can check it off the to-do list and forget about it.
Many times, when we remember a person or event, we consider it to be a mental process as though remembering is simply contemplating some recollection. We often think of it as an internal, solitary practice.
Remembering definitely is keeping something or someone in mind, but the Bible encourages us to do more when we remember. Think of the ways the Bible commands God’s people to remember:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy … For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (Ex. 20:8, 11, ESV).
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19, ESV).
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, ESV).
A Closer Look
Remembering is powerful. In English, to remember is to fix a memory in the mind, to treasure it, to retain it or keep it forever, to hold it dear, and to know it by heart. Scripture teaches that we are to remember “in such a way that the facts remembered have some impact on the present.” This means that remembering should provoke action or change in us. And Christians are supposed to be a remembering people—we remember together; commonly held traditions and beliefs define us.
Remember the Sabbath. God’s children are to celebrate their Creator by setting the seventh day apart, keeping it (or observing it as) holy, and putting God before everything else. We do this in community.
Remember the Lord’s Supper. We recognize the sacrifice of Jesus by reenacting the Passover Supper He had with His disciples—Christians call this communion, the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper. Again, we do this in community.
Remember the Words of Jesus. We are meant to honor the words of Jesus by imitating Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15, ESV). As Christians, it is in imitating Jesus that we display our faith—others know we are Christians by our love (John 13:35, ESV).
We need to think of remembering the Lord as an activity rather than a passing thought. There’s more to say about this, but that’s for next time. For now, please ruminate with me on the questions that keep coming up in my mind:
If remembering is meant to provoke action or change, how do we properly remember God’s faithfulness? Do we know His faithfulness by heart? Is it fixed in our minds? What does it look like to honor/treasure/hold dear the faithfulness of God?