It’s a common icebreaker question in Christian circles… “What’s your life verse?” But what exactly is that?
A lot of Christians, particularly those of the evangelical fold, have a life verse. It’s a Bible verse that means something special to a believer. It’s not uncommon for new Christians who are getting to know each other to ask about each other’s life verse. Quite commonly, talking about life verses can lead to conversations about how someone converted to Christianity and what they feel like God wants them to do with their life.
The term life verse is only about 100 years old. The earliest discovered citation of the term is from 1921. Interestingly, that is around the time of the rise of fundamentalism, which is a movement that placed a high value on the careful study of the Bible and a very literal interpretation of the Bible’s contents. So perhaps during this time when some people were coming to value the Bible as a key part of the Christian life, the idea of “adopting” a specific verse to call one’s own was popularized.
I have had several verses over the years that have been life verses to me. One of the first ones was Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I remember really connecting with the idea that I was balancing between God’s way of doing things and the world’s way of doing things. I used to think about that verse a lot and use it to help me remember to choose God’s way if I ever felt like I was at a crossroads.
Do you have a life verse of your own? How did you happen to come by it?
By the way, in the definition below, if the year for a citation has a letter after it, such as the a in 2009a or the b in 2009b, that is just a method of distinguishing between two different 2009 citations. “2009a” means the first 2009 citation, and “2009b” means the second 2009 citation. In most definitions, every citation has a different year, so I can just say “1979” and it’ll be obvious which citation that is. But sometimes there are two citations for the same year, and in those cases the little letter a or b will indicate whether the first or the second citation (etc.) is meant.
life verse n. Also life’s verse. A specific Bible verse that a Christian believes to be specially representative or predictive of his or her life. Many Christians regard their life verse as an inspirational motto or lifelong mission statement.
A life verse can be chosen in many ways. It can be a well-liked verse or personally meaningful verse (see citations for 1921, 1982). It can describe a personal or ministry goal (see citations for 1959, 1970, 1998, 2009b). It can be a message or promise about one’s life that is believed to be divine in origin (see citations for 1979, 1998, 2009a). It can be calculated using details about a person’s life such as a name and birthday (see citations for 1992, 2006, 2007).
Sometimes a person talks about “claiming” a life verse (see citations for 1998, 2011). For more information, see *claim a verse.
• 1921 Mission Tidings (Jan.) 13 : You will be interested, Miss Wray, in my life verse, newly taken: “Thanks be unto God, Who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ.” … It strangely attracts, does it not, because it leaves no room for defeat? 1935 Sykes Second Hoeing 219 : Was a Christian life just loving others, doing for them with love in your heart? That had been her mother’s way. Her own life verse came into her mind: “Rejoicing in hope,/Patient in tribulation,/Continuing instant in prayer.” 1959 Kuhn By Searching: My Journey Through Doubt into Faith 44 : [I] decided to try for Philippians 4:11 as perhaps more within the possibility of attainment…. This became my life-verse for the next ten years or so. 1970 World Vision Mag. XIV. 28 : As a teenager, Torrey chose as his life verse Luke 22:42…. Torrey admits that he shrank back from the tasks many times, but kept going because of the latter part of his life verse. 1979 Klopsch Christian Herald CII. 70 : I began to ask the Lord to show me a verse that would be truly meaningful for me, in all of life’s circumstances and for a lifetime. One day as I was reading Psalm 32, verse eight jumped out at me…. Instantly I knew that Psalm 32:8 should be my “life verse.” 1982 Lyon Growing Life: Devotionals for the Young in Christ 116 : A Bible verse came to me, which I suppose is my life verse. lt has meant a great deal to me since I was saved. 1992 MacArthur Charismatic Chaos 102 : A guest on a charismatic television network explained the “biblical basis” of his ministry[:] … “My ministry is based entirely on my life verse, Matthew 19:26, ‘With God all things are possible.’ God gave me that verse because I was born in 1926.” 1998 Cedar A Life of Prayer 95 : My “life verse” is Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” As a teenager, I sensed the Holy Spirit guiding me to claim that verse as a major focus of my Christian life. 2006 Hummel This Is Now: A Girl-to-Girl Devotional for Teens s.v. May 23 : I first heard about someone having a life verse through a friend of the family. Her son is named John, and his birthday is March 16, therefore, his life verse is John 3:16…. To get a life verse, take the month of your birth and put it as the chapter. Then, use the day you were born as the verse. If your name happens to be a book of the Bible, a character, or an author, I would start looking in that verse first. 2007 Alexander, Murphey Touchdown Alexander: My Story of Faith, Football, and Pursuing the Dream 72 : “Find one verse that speaks to you, and make that your life verse. Your number is 37, Shaun, so try this: Memorize whatever you like in the Bible that has the number 37 in it. Read until you find that special Scripture with 37 in it. Every time you read that verse, it’ll remind you of how good God is.” 2009 Lewis Give God a Year 138 : Hebrews 12:1 has become my life verse, and God confirmed it to me in several ways. I arrived at Round Top with a T-shirt in my suitcase bearing that verse, only to discover that it was the week’s memory verse. Then in April 2008, I entered my first 5K race. The race’s theme was Hebrews 12:1! 2009 Meshler Upward Obsession 160 : Because of this, Galatians 2:20 is my life’s verse, as my prayer has been and will continue to be that people see Christ in me. 2011 Duggar A Love That Multiplies 67 : My answer was always to cite 2 Corinthians 12:9, the scripture I had claimed long ago as my life verse.