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Like many of my older-generation peers, my memory isn’t what it used to be, and it never was my particular strong suit. Many people have difficulty remembering things, but there are certain things that we simply must remember—things far too important to forget.
Pardon the jokes, but I’ve had a memory problem for about as long as I can remember. Sometimes having a bad memory bothers me, but then I just forget about it. I bought a book on improving memory… but forgot to read it.
Forgetfulness and other memory quirks seem to be common human failings. Things we try to remember, we don’t, and things we try to forget, we can’t. One of the most frequently used excuses for failing to do something is, “I forgot.” Admitting that we forgot is at least taking personal responsibility, rather than blaming a spouse, sibling, or poor little dog.
We try to remember common things like anniversary dates and important appointments. We try to remember to turn out the lights, lock the doors, take out the trash, and not leave behind our wallet or purse and keys. We try to remember all of our pesky passwords!
We lament our forgetfulness and our failures to remember. Remember the old “string tied around the finger” memory prompt of years gone by? Today, it has been replaced with prompts from smartphone apps and calendar programs, which can be helpful memory tools.
Many fear memory decline, especially from getting dementia or the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. None of us want to decline to the point of forgetting our loved ones.
Memory is a fascinating subject. According to Psychology Today, “Memory is the faculty by which the brain encodes, stores, and retrieves information.” Yeah—it’s that retrieval part that gives us trouble.
There are different kinds of memory for different uses: episodic, semantic, procedural, working, sensory, and prospective. We have short-term and long-term memory. Some people are gifted with amazing ability to remember and recall facts and figures, and a very few have eidetic memory (vivid and detailed mental images), though it is extremely rare.
There are things we need to forget, which is why we have short-term memory—useless clutter needs to be cleared from our minds after a while. But there are some extremely important things we need to remember.
Many times, the God of the Bible tells us to “remember,” or the corollary, “do not forget.” One of the first things God commanded was to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). However, it is quite apparent that most do not remember the Sabbath or keep it holy, nor do they remember the rest of the Sabbath commandment: to work six days, but not the seventh day, and that the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
It is one thing to hear and know the truth of God. Hearing is necessary, but doing it—living it—is also a necessity. This is discussed in James’ epistle: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22–25).
A common idiomatic expression today is that talk is cheap, meaning that it takes little effort to speak some words, but actually doing what was spoken requires a great deal more effort. That is why so many resolutions are soon broken: The resolve is not remembered.
The Bible is filled with the consequences of failing to remember important things. Remember, don’t forget, and be a hearer and doer.
There are many things that the world has seemingly forgotten, the knowledge of which is still contained in the word of God. To learn more, order the free study guides Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath? and Where Is God’s True Church Today?, or read them online right here at Tomorrow’s World.
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