Mnemonic devices are little strings of words we use to help us remember big concepts. I often find them very helpful in wading through the vast stores of scriptural knowledge required in my profession. For example, every time I see a compact disc, I can’t help but think of the prophet Habakkuk. In the late eighties and through the nineties, CDs (the abbreviation for compact disc) were the standard form for transporting music. But my friend Paul Hughes once held up a CD with a piece of masking tape on it to teach me about Habakkuk. The prophet’s name was scrawled on the tape, a makeshift label, and the CD stood for crisis and dialogue, the two main themes of the biblical book. Because of that little mnemonic device, I’ve got a good handle on that book for life.
In real life, I often use a mnemonic aid to assist in victorious living. It’s a simple little refrain that helps me remember every moment in life is an opportunity to submit to God’s Spirit and be renewed in his image. Here’s the device:
When they ________, then you _________, so that _________.
When they, then you, so that. There’s kind of a sing-song feel to it when you say it out loud, what Shakespearians would call iambic meter. Anyway, the gist involves letting yourself be formed by Christ instead of reacting to the poor behavior of others. So, when they (curse you, revile you, hate you), then you (bless them, forgive them, respond with mercy) so that (the Spirit gets bigger inside you, you are re-formed into the image of Christ, you are transformed).
We have to learn to see every unpleasant, miserable thing as an opportunity for God to do his new creation, resurrection work in us, killing off our sinful nature and bringing the kingdom to bear.
We have to see these things with kingdom eyes, changing our perspective from “woe is me” to “thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
When they crucify you, then you sacrifice yourself willingly, so that God will raise you up into new life.
The next time you feel like strangling someone who’s treating you like a weiner, try to hear these little iams working through your head and see if it doesn’t help you respond differently.