By Bruce Schlenke
I’ve talked to a lot of Christian believers who have chosen a life verse from the Bible that is special to them. It may be a certain verse of Scripture that was instrumental in their experience of coming to faith in Jesus Christ, or one that impacted their life at a milestone moment or crisis, or perhaps a Bible verse that encapsulates their spiritual walk with the Lord.
As I think about the many Bible verses that stand out to me, I’m forced to think about the fact that the Old and New Testament texts were not originally written in verses and chapters as our Bibles present them. The books and letters were pretty much continuous text; chapter and verse designations were added in the Bible’s editing process to help with ease in reading and referencing. So, perhaps we can think of our penchant for choosing a life verse more as adopting a life sentence from God’s Word.
Last spring I attended a significant college reunion for me and my aging classmate graduates. Our school was a decidedly Christian liberal arts college, and it was quite heartening for me to see so many former student friends whose lives had been blessed by God’s active presence in and through them. Out of a class of about 300, there were 75 graduates in attendance. In the reunion booklet that was published with pictures (then and now) and brief life summaries of the attendees, each person was asked to submit their favorite/life verse from Scripture. As I read each class member’s page, I was curious: Which Bible verse would be the one most chosen? Which would be the most obscure? Would anyone’s match mine? Or, more significantly, what would be the person’s life story behind their choice of a life verse?
After a cursory tabulation, the second most popular choice was Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” And in the first place, Proverbs 3:5&6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” No one else chose mine, Ephesians 2:8-10. And the most obscure verse — I never found it; I think the guy made it up…!
Now, I realize that no one verse or portion of Scripture should necessarily be regarded as more important than the rest of God’s Word. But, when God speaks to us in a special way through His Word, in a particular circumstance or in prayer, the Holy Spirit can take that verse, that sentence of holy truth, and mark our lives with purpose and strength. Do you have a life verse from the Bible? Or more accurately put, do you have a life sentence from God’s Word?
My choice of Ephesians 2:8-10 was a theological decision for me, for it outlines God’s plan and process of salvation and sanctification in essence: “For by grace are you saved through faith, and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God; not because of works lest anyone should boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for a life of good works, which God has prepared beforehand for us to do.” But, in case you think that breaks the rules for a life verse since it’s really three verses, I’m happy to revise my choice. In Galatians 2:20, the Apostle Paul captures for me, very personally, the essence of a life committed to following Jesus Christ — “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This is a true and challenging life sentence for me.
What’s your life sentence? And, is there a story behind it?