Let me start by saying that as I go through different seasons and struggles in my life, different verses become more important to me. The verses that held particular meaning for me three or four years ago are not necessarily the verses I look to for comfort or a reminder of God’s presence now. That said, here are the top five verses that are most dear to me right now as I’ve finished college and am looking to the future.
1 Corinthians 13:13 — And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
This is a quick summary of the three virtues most important to the faith. Without them, we cannot accomplish God’s work for us or be conduits of His character. This is one of the few verses that I have clung to throughout my life (well, since middle school). There is great evil in the world, and sometimes I get discouraged. I wonder how Christians can hope to stand against the sin and evil that seems to flourish. But if we have faith that God will work through us, hope in His grace, and allow His love to shine through us, there is no limit to what we can do.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 — Abstain from every form of evil.
The previous verse about faith, hope and love doesn’t mean that as long as we practice those three virtues, we can sin all we want with no consequence. Fleeing from sin is still very important. Sin stunts our spiritual growth and can keep us from hearing God’s voice or following His path for our life. This is a good, simple verse that is pretty clear, yet its message is one that, regrettably, many Christians seem to put on the back burner. I am not a perfect person by any means, and this is a command that I struggle with daily, as everyone does. However, we cannot effectively reach the unsaved with our faith, hope and love if sin is clouding our judgment and dulling our conscience.
1 Corinthians 15:33 — Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Another from 1 Corinthians, and this one ties into the verse from 1 Thessalonians. We may think we can hang around those hostile to our faith and merely witness to them with our presence without getting pulled into their sin, or we may even try missionary dating, but in fact we’re the ones more likely to be affected. We shouldn’t avoid non-Christians (Jesus ate with sinners, after all), but we also shouldn’t keep close company with and seek to emulate those who do not share our faith or convictions. Jesus ministered to those who despised Him, but the only ones He allowed to be his disciples were those willing to turn their back on their sin to follow Him.
The hard truth is that it is much easier to influence someone for evil than for good. Your closest friends should be those who will bolster your faith and encourage your relationship with God. Also keep in mind that there are plenty of professing Christians who would classify as “bad company.” Choose your friends by their habits and behavior, not simply by whether they show up on Sundays or not.
Isaiah 40:31 — but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
God can help us do things we never would have thought possible (duh). His strength can hold us up and keep us going when we are not strong enough. This has become especially important to me as I have graduated college and am looking ahead to adulthood. Sometimes I feel like I can’t handle things, or that I’m not ready to be an adult. I have applied to several graduate schools, but I don’t know where I’ll get in, if I even get in anywhere. I’ve heard back from two schools, one a rejection and one has me on a wait list. I’m not sure what I’ll do if I don’t get my Masters of Fine Arts; it’s what I’ve always assumed I’d do. Should I wait and apply again the next round? Should I begin the workforce grind? Just thinking about it makes me tired.
Even though this verse has been exploited by Christian retailers (how many times have you seen this verse alongside the picture of an eagle soaring over a lake?), it’s one that has become especially important to me as of late.
Jeremiah 29:11 — For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
This one gets used a lot and can also seem a little cheesy. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen this verse over some sort of nature photo as part of an inspirational calendar. But when I find myself in hard times, or even now as I face possible grad school and my future career options, this reminder that God has a plan for me, and a plan that is good for me, brings me comfort.
I have seen some people use this as a prosperity verse. It’s not. It doesn’t mean that we won’t have hardships, struggles, or difficulties. It means that whatever path God points us down is, in the end, for our own good. If you suffer hardships because you strayed from God or walked headlong into sin, that’s another story. But God has a plan that is perfectly tailored to our lives, even if the path to that plan is overgrown with thorny weeds or littered with our own mistakes.
Maybe in a year or even a few months, there will be other verses that give me the encouragement I need or speak to my struggles. Maybe I’ll be fighting apathy or finding it hard to show love. What are some verses that hold special value to you? Have they changed over the years?