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Why use rewards?
—2 Timothy 3:15
At Scripture Memory Fellowship, we believe that physical rewards can be a powerful motivator for memorizing Scripture—especially for children.
From time to time people ask us whether it’s wise to offer external motivations (e.g., prizes) for a spiritual discipline. After all, shouldn’t Christians memorize Scripture out of an internal motivation—love for God?
First of all, we agree wholeheartedly that love for God should be our primary motivation for memorizing Scripture. Our goal is not to encourage children to make Scripture memory a means to a selfish end, and we’re not trying to make Bible trivia champs who never apply the Word to their lives.
Incentives for Children: Bridging the Motivation Gap
However, consider the following two facts:
- The ideal time for building long-term memory is before the age of 12. A child’s mind is better equipped to tackle complex memory and acquisition tasks (such as learning languages) than an adult’s.
- Realistically, most children lack the ability to be internally motivated to memorize the Bible. Meaningful, Holy-Spirit inspired understanding of Scripture tends not to happen until the teen years.
Only the Spirit can light His words on fire in a heart. God Himself must exchange an individual’s “heart of stone” for a “heart of flesh.” While there are exceptions, most young children are not yet at this stage of spiritual maturity.
So while we wait and pray for the Holy Spirit to light the fire, we believe it’s wise to “stack the wood” of Scripture in the child’s heart in the meantime.
Childhood is too precious of an opportunity to miss, so we’re happy to help fill the motivational gap by offering appropriate incentives (Bible coloring books and similar prizes) to encourage children to memorize Scripture while it’s easier for them.
And even if the initial motivation is external, the Word of God will always have a positive effect in the heart—including leading the child to a saving knowledge of Christ (2 Tim 3:15).
Incentives for Adults: Encouraging You Along the Way
For adults, we trust the internal motivation is already there, but we acknowledge that memorizing Scripture can be a challenge. We offer the incentives not to replace internal motivation, but to support it. We want to encourage and reward you for work well done.