Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
As long as I have known and loved this verse, I’m not sure it ever occurred to me before that this is why some people may be afraid of reading the Bible. Thinking about it, this image is pretty scary! The thing is, God’s Word doesn’t harm the good stuff in us, it cuts out and cuts away the things that harm us, that separate us from God. That’s where faith comes in. If we don’t really trust that God has our best interests in mind, we will be protective of how we are now, instead of desiring to grow as He intends for us. Human doctors are a pretty weak analogy for what God can and does do for us, but even the Bible uses them that way, so here goes. Many people are very scared of surgery, and it can indeed bring pain in the short term. However, accurate surgery can be life-saving. Some people are so scared of the surgery itself that they choose to die of their disease rather than go through the surgery. That is directly comparable to our spiritual condition. Some people are so attached to their sins that they go to hell rather than allow God to cut those sins away from them. Just yesterday I heard of someone who is rejecting life-saving medical treatment out of fear of the treatment itself, and I have known multiple people who have been so attached to their sins that they couldn’t face the thought of genuine repentance, renouncing those sins. Either way it’s tragic. One thing to keep in mind is that the sharper the blade, the less pain there is, at least initially. That’s why it’s so good that God’s Word is so sharp. He doesn’t subject us to blunt force trauma! We need to recognize the magnificence of His love and trust that His plans for us are indeed good, (Jeremiah 29:11) welcoming His Word into our hearts and lives to do its full work. (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Growing up in the home that I did, essentially immersed in the Bible, I have never been consciously afraid of it, but there have been periods when I really wasn’t interested in reading it. Now, I’m so familiar with it that the danger is in the old proverb of familiarity breeding contempt. I must never take the Word lightly! I delight to read the Word morning by morning, and God indeed gives me fresh revelations, just as He did this morning about people being scared to read the Bible. As a pastor my chief desire for my flock is that each one discover the joy of feeding on the Word, regularly and abundantly, and grow to be the disciple that Jesus desires and deserves, in intimate fellowship through the Holy Spirit. That is my personal goal for myself, but I can’t make it happen in anyone. I’ve got to walk alongside people, admonishing but even more encouraging, helping them discover for themselves the riches of the Word rather than constantly spoon-feeding them. I haven’t figured out how to do that consistently yet, so I’ve got to keep praying and listening, so that God may use me to accomplish His will in people’s hearts and lives.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You also for this training period of cutting back on speaking. Help me indeed listen, first to You and also to those around me, rather than butting in with my own thoughts and ideas, so that Your Word may have its full work in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!