Of course, that was all in comedy.
Not so with Paul, who was “king of the one-liners” — serious advice or admonition — in the New Testament.
His writing to the churches at Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica and to Timothy is filled with this simple, but wise, counsel and encouragement told in few words.
Paul said in Ephesians 4:20, 23, 27 — “But ye have not so learned Christ ... And be renewed in the spirit of your mind ... Neither give place to the devil.”
In Philippians 1:21; 2:14; 4:11 — “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain ... Do all things without murmurings and disputings ... Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
To Timothy he wrote in 1 Timothy 5:3; 6:6 — “Honour widows that are widows indeed ... But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Paul gives a concise list in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22, 25 — “Rejoice evermore ... Pray without ceasing ... In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you ... Quench not the Spirit ... Despise not prophesyings ... Prove all things; hold fast that which is good ... Abstain from all appearance of evil ... Brethren, pray for us.”
And in his second letter to the church at Thessalonica, he writes: “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).
These would be great verses for memorization since they convey such deep meanings and relevant advice.
Remember when we would have Scripture quoting contests in children’s church and youth meetings? Two favorite Scriptures quoted were “God is love” and “Jesus wept.” Whoever was first in line usually spit these out.
We had an elderly lady who always wanted to take part and her favorite quote was “Little is much if God is in it.”
She would be told, “That’s not a Scripture.”
“Yes, it is,” she’d retort. “The pastor preached it.” (Sure, the essence of the phrase is in the Bible, but not a direct quote.)
Neither are “Every tub has to sit on its own bottom,” “Man is prone to sin as sparks to upward fly” or “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”
We all have our favorite one-liners, but sometimes they get a little mixed up, such as my late husband’s comment of “green behind the ears.”
But Paul gives us good, solid statements, which can be regarded as the Word of God. He even declared what he knew came from God ... “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2 Timothy 3:16.
It’s reassuring we do not have to choose what is truth in the Bible. It is all truth. We do not have to choose what to believe — we either believe or disbelieve. And if we choose to disbelieve any of the Word, we can’t trust any of it.
We need to be receptive to the Word — it holds the secrets of life.
I’ve heard that when a person begins losing memory faculties, the things poured into the mind during a lifetime are what comes out when control is lost. So surely it’s a good idea to fill our minds with the Word — then it will spill out naturally.
But memorization of the Scripture is not enough. It has to go deeper than just memory. We must — as we used to say — “learn it by heart” or “know by heart.”
I believe this is what the psalmist was saying in Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”