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Simplify - Choosing a Life Verse


What to look for in a life verse
Life verses often reflect an individual’s story and personality. I hope by now I have convinced you of the value of choosing a life verse  — whether for this current season or as a rallying cry for the rest of your life. What characteristics are important in a life verse of your own? Look for a few key traits.

Call to Action
An effective life verse serves as a call to action. By this, I don’t mean it necessarily tells you what to do. My life verse happens to be instructional in this way  — be steadfast  — but many good life verses are not. Nonetheless, the message of a good life verse should call you to action. In the examples I cited earlier, the person’s life verse reminded him or her to do everything through Jesus the Vine, or to look for life “to the full” in spite of tragic circumstances. A good life verse should motivate you to run the right race for an eternal, imperishable prize. Find a verse that doesn’t leave you sitting comfortably on your backside, but rather drives you to act on the things that matter most.

Find a life verse that speaks to an area in your life where you need extra reinforcement. Don’t pick a verse that simply augments an area where you’re already strong; look for a verse that supports you where you are weak. Someone who is naturally filled with God’s peace doesn’t need, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14: 27), but someone who is in bondage to fear might! Find a life verse that fills the gaps in your life and undergirds you where you need it most.

Short and Sweet
In order for your life verse to serve as an effective rallying cry throughout your day, it must be succinct. Don’t choose several verses. Don’t choose Psalm 119, which has 176 verses! Look for a single verse  — or, at most, a short two- or three-verse passage. It should be concise enough to memorize and to be recited in the heat of battle as you go about your day.

Choose a life verse that leaves you feeling better than you did before you read it. You don’t need harsh words of truth or conviction repeatedly drilled into your mind throughout the day. So, don’t choose Romans 3: 23, for example: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We need the truth of this Scripture, to be sure. But for your life verse, find a verse that emphasizes God’s benevolence toward you rather than your shortcomings before Him. Choose a life verse that is encouraging, uplifting, and positive; one that motivates you and infuses you with hope.



I have included a catalog of possible life verses in Appendix B. These verses are sorted by topic to make it easier for you to find a verse that fits you. Other places to look for potential verses include your Bible, an online Bible, a book that lists God’s promises by categories, or a Bible promise app on your mobile device.

Your Bible
If you’re in the habit of underlining and highlighting Bible verses as I am, flip through your Bible’s pages and read the verses you have marked. Perhaps you’ve already underlined the verse you will choose as your life verse. If you find several, make a list of the top contenders. If your Bible has a concordance, you can search it for key words that resonate with you, such as peace, joy, faithfulness, etc.

Online Bible
Use free online Bible software such as YouVersion ( to search for key words. If you think a verse on joy would serve you well, search for “joy” and then scroll through the verses in the Bible that contain that word.

Bible Promise Books
Several publishing companies have published inexpensive, pocket-size books that contain hundreds of promises from Scripture, categorized into dozens of topics, such as anger, contentment, eternal life, hope, God’s love, peace, redemption, salvation, trust, worry, and so on. These books are available as e-books and in different versions of the Bible. Pick up the book that matches the Bible version you prefer to read  — and then search according to the topics that most resonate with you.

  • New Living Translation: The NLT Bible Promise Book (Tyndale House)
  • New International Version: Bible Promises for You (Zondervan)
  • King James Version or New Life Version: The Bible Promise Book (Barbour)

Bible Promises App
Same idea as a Bible promise book, but mobile friendly. Go to the app store on your device and search “Bible promises.” A number of inexpensive or free apps are available to help you search Scripture by key word or topic.



Using the resources described above, create a list of verses that resonate with you, and then prayerfully consider each one. Don’t make a quick decision; rather, give it time until you feel a sense of clarity about which verse to pick. Once you have selected a life verse, commit it to memory and post it in places you will see throughout your day to keep it fresh in your mind.



There are no hard-and-fast rules about life verses. You can change verses at any time. Though I have chosen a main life verse (1 Corinthians 15: 58), I have also leaned in to other verses for different seasons. Aim for finding a verse that will serve you for the long haul, one that can be a lighthouse for you throughout the journey of your life.




PSALM 3: 3-4 You, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the LORD,   and he answers me from his holy mountain.

LAMENTATIONS 3: 22-23 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

ZEPHANIAH 3: 17 The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

JOHN 10: 27-29 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

ROMANS 8: 38-39 I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

ROMANS 10: 13 Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

EPHESIANS 1: 13 You also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.



NEHEMIAH 9: 6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

PSALM 27: 4 One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

PSALM 71: 5-6 You have been my hope, Sovereign LORD,   my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.   I will ever praise you.

PSALM 116: 1-2 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

HABAKKUK 3: 2 LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.

PHILIPPIANS 4: 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!



PSALM 82: 3-4 Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

PROVERBS 19: 17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,   and he will reward them for what they have done.

MATTHEW 25: 37-40 Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I   tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

JAMES 1: 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. 1  

JOHN 3: 17-18 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love   of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.



PSALM 119: 37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

MATTHEW 6: 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

MATTHEW 6: 34 Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble Each day has enough trouble of its own.

PHILIPPIANS 4: 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

PHILIPPIANS 4: 19 My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

HEBREWS 13: 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I   leave you; never will I forsake you.”



JOSHUA 1: 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

PSALM 27: 1 The LORD is my light and my salvation  — whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life  — of whom shall I be afraid?

ISAIAH 41: 10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I   will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

JOHN 16: 33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

ROMANS 1: 16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

PHILIPPIANS 4: 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

1 TIMOTHY 6: 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

2 TIMOTHY 1: 7 The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

1 JOHN 4: 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.



DEUTERONOMY 6: 6-7 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

JOSHUA 24: 15 But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

PROVERBS 3: 5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

ISAIAH 40: 30-31 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

JOHN 15: 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

1 CORINTHIANS 10: 31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

COLOSSIANS 3: 23-24 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

2 TIMOTHY 2: 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.



PSALM 139: 13-14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

ROMANS 15: 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

COLOSSIANS 2: 6-7 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

1 THESSALONIANS 5: 16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

JAMES 1: 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.



PSALM 18: 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

PSALM 25: 4-5 Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

JEREMIAH 29: 11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

MICAH 7: 7 As for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.

MARK 10: 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

ROMANS 8: 28 We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

PHILIPPIANS 1: 6 Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.



JEREMIAH 9: 23-24 This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.

2 CORINTHIANS 12: 9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so   that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

EPHESIANS 2: 8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith  — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God  — not by   works, so that no one can boast.

PHILIPPIANS 2: 3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

PHILIPPIANS 3: 7 Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

JAMES 4: 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.



PROVERBS 31: 8-9 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

ISAIAH 1: 17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

JEREMIAH 22: 3 This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.

MICAH 6: 8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

ZECHARIAH 7: 9-10 This is what the LORD Almighty said: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.”



JEREMIAH 31: 3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

MATTHEW 22: 37-39 Jesus replied: “‘ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

JOHN 13: 34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

ROMANS 12: 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

EPHESIANS 4: 1-3 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

COLOSSIANS 3: 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

1 PETER 4: 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.



EXODUS 33: 14 The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

PSALM 46: 10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

MATTHEW 11: 28-30 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

ROMANS 8: 1 There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

ROMANS 12: 17-18 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.



ACTS 20: 24 I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me  — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

1 CORINTHIANS 9: 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

1 CORINTHIANS 15: 58 My dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

2 CORINTHIANS 4: 7-9 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

GALATIANS 6: 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

PHILIPPIANS 2: 12-13 My dear friends, as you have always obeyed  — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence  — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

PHILIPPIANS 3: 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

HEBREWS 12: 1 Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

JAMES 1: 2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

JAMES 1: 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.



PSALM 51: 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

PSALM 139: 23-24 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

PROVERBS 4: 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

EZEKIEL 36: 26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

ROMANS 12: 1-2 I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God  — this is your true and proper worship. 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.

PHILIPPIANS 4: 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable  — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy  — think about such things.



ISAIAH 6: 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

JOHN 13: 14-15 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

JOHN 15: 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

GALATIANS 2: 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

EPHESIANS 5: 1-2 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

PHILIPPIANS 1: 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

1 PETER 4: 19 Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to   do good.


Hybels, Bill (2014-08-19). Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul (pp. 285-301). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.