Copying My Lines

Deuteronomy 17-19

Not too many people remember the “punishment” some teachers used to mete out in public school when one of their students committed an infraction. Let’s say I got caught chewing gum in class. The teacher would instruct me, after making me spit the stuff into the garbage pail beside her desk, to take a piece of paper, and then she would say: “Lynda, write out two hundred times, ‘I will not chew gum in class.’ Maybe that will remind you not to do it again.”

I wonder if that particular punishment grew out of God’s instructions via Moses for Israel’s future kings. God says: “When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and theses decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left” (17:18-20).

When I was writing out lines I don’t remember the teacher ever telling me to keep the paper they were written on and to read those lines every day for the rest of my life. The paper was usually consigned to the garbage along with the hope that I would remember what I had written.

The principle laid down here is an important one. It’s probably practically impossible for a leader to write out all the laws of the land by hand when he takes office and then read them all every day (though it wouldn't be a bad idea). But it is not impossible for us to do something similar when it comes to our interaction with God’s Word.

Writing down the significant instructions from the Scriptures as I read each day, or “copying lines,” helps me to remember the instructions. Some people write down the verses that make an impact on them and stick them to mirrors, fridge doors, in front of the kitchen sink, or on their computer screens.

And when we “write out our lines” and constantly review what we have written, the Truth eventually becomes so ingrained that making right decisions is almost automatic, and is imprinted on our actions, attitudes, words, and character.

And just a note of caution: Copying and pasting from the Bible Gateway website does NOT qualify as writing out your “lines.”


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