What your favorite Bible verse says about you

I’ve noticed that a lot of people love their categorizations. Specifically, categorizing people: themselves and others. From personality tests to zodiac signs, the ENTJ to the cancer, everyone seems to love it all. I’ve seen innumerable Instagram stories about my friends’ Myers-Briggs four letters, and at one point my feed was full of “what does being an aquarius mean? Zodiac sign characteristics part 6.” 

While I must admit that that quiz titled “what character from [redacted show] are you” looked quite interesting, (I may have clicked on it) I’ve always thought that personality tests could only ever reach a certain level of accuracy. Is there any way we can really describe ourselves in a way that doesn’t resort to boring definitions?

And then it hit me: we as Christians have had a unique way of telling others something about ourselves this whole time! A favorite Bible verse is a very real testament to an aspect of someone’s true character and spiritual identity. With that in mind, I set off to collect some of the Penn Epistle’s favorite Bible verses, and delved into them with some simple analysis. It’s a go!

"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. "
—Proverbs 31:25

Our first verse comes in with laughter and joy. When I first heard this verse, the word ‘laughter’ instantly stood out to me and I thought of Psalm 100:1–2, which says, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” While joy is a big part of Proverbs 31:25, the verse also speaks to the cause of this joy. The sentence implies cause and effect—that strength and dignity give this woman (who is described as being “of noble character”) the ability to laugh at hard days to come. But who clothes the woman with these characteristics? Why, God of course. And there we can see the very heart of this verse, that those who are clothed with the armor of God will be able to withstand and even laugh at the difficult days to come.

"But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed."
—Matthew 8:8

Our next verse shows the importance of faith and the effects that it has on our lives. In this passage, a centurion has approached Jesus and has asked Him for help regarding his servant lying paralyzed at home. When Jesus asks if He should go to his house and heal his servant, the centurion replies with Matthew 8:8. In this moment, the centurion shows faith and respect: faith that Jesus can heal his servant without even entering his house, and respect in that even he, a man of power, is unworthy of having Jesus in his home. The centurion shows great faith, humility, and consciousness of his own sin, and therefore his servant is healed. In many ways, we should strive to be like the centurion—faithful and understanding of God’s power in our relationship with Him.

"For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval"
—Romans 13:3

Our third verse speaks on the relationship between Christians and authority figures. Preceding this verse is Romans 13:1, which says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” This verse at first seems to interpret; are we supposed to believe that every authority figure in history was established by God? That is, until we realize that God knows all and everything that occurs on this earth is by His intent. So yes, God allows leaders to rise and fall. However, when the government and God’s will as found in Scripture come into direct conflict, Christians must not follow the government. When the apostles were summoned to trial for preaching without permission, they replied, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29b). This is an area which requires much thought, study, and prayer in order to discern when and where the government stands in opposition to God’s will.

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death."
—Romans 8:1–2

A popular verse and passage for good reason, Romans 8 reminds us of the truth of the saving grace of God despite our irredeemable sin. Further on, Romans 8:13 says, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” This verse puts in stark contrast how faith changes our fate—a life according to our sinful nature leads to condemnation, while a life according to faith by the Spirit leads us to eternal life. This concept can be scary, as it requires us to put all our trust in someone other than ourselves to save us, but it is also reassuring. God’s gift of salvation is free and without exception.

"[I pray] that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
—Ephesians 3:16–19

These verses are special because they are the only repeat among the team! Two people told me that they love this passage, and I can see why. It touches on two core principles of Christianity: the strengthening power of the Holy Spirit and the everlasting love of Christ. One important thing to note here is that we as human beings are so fallen that we cannot even believe in God on our own strength! Without the Holy Spirit, we have no chance of maintaining faith in God. What more can God give? He has given us all we need: strength on this earth, eternal life, everlasting love, and much more beyond our comprehension.

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
—Exodus 14:14

Not only does God give us strength, He promises to fight on our behalf! In all of our lives, there will be times when we doubt God and His sovereignty, asking Him why he would allow trials to happen. When that time comes, it takes immense trust (only given to us through the Holy Spirit!) to sit back and allow God to deliver us from our struggles, though often not in the way we want him to. On the other hand, it’s important not to use this verse as an excuse to test God. When Jesus was fasting in the wilderness, Satan tempted him with a verse of a similar theme: “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11–12). How did Jesus reply? “Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:7).

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
—1 Corinthians 10:31

Okay, so this isn’t actually a verse that someone told me was their favorite. It’s actually mine. I like this verse so much because it gives guidance on how to live life as a Christian, while also leaving the proverbial door open in many ways. It is a reminder that there are many ways to live a Christian life—that as long as you truly work for God’s glory, it does not matter whether you are a pastor or a civil engineer. On the other hand, living to the glory of God is no easy task, and everyone will fall short of a completely righteous and glorifying life. But that does not mean that we cannot strive to live out this verse in our daily lives as Christians. 

A well-thought out favorite verse most definitely says something about the person who chose it, as it must have stood out to them among the 31,101 other verses in the Bible. For me, I chose my favorite verse because working for God is something that I aspire to. For the people I talked to, they might have chosen a favorite verse based on their situation in life, a reflection of their character, what they are studying at the moment—there are infinite possibilities. In any case, a person’s favorite verse is something that requires more thought and understanding (and infinitely more help from God) than the generalizations and qualifications that zodiac signs and personality tests come with. All that being said, they can have their zodiac signs. We have something better.

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