Careful, You'll Cut Yourself

I remember, as a six-year-old, joining the Tiger Cubs. One of the many activities of Cub and Boy Scouts is selling popcorn each fall. For achieving various sales totals, the scouts are rewarded with prizes. As a Tiger Cub, I sold enough popcorn to win a pocket knife. It was my first, and I excitedly opened the blade to begin playing with it. I remember my dad saying, “Careful, you’ll cut yourself.” I didn’t listen, and it took all of 13 seconds for blood to appear on my index finger. My dad had no pity on me. What a jerk.

I wish that every copy of God’s Word came with the same admonition. The Hebrew writer was on to something when he told his audience that “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,” (Heb. 4:12).

In other words, “Careful, you’ll cut yourself.”

I want God to disabuse me of the notion that his Word will always leave me with warm fuzzies and butterflies. I want God to disabuse his church of the notion that his Word will always leave us with good feelings. A study of God’s Word will inevitably leave us uncomfortable. So when I open up the Word with a receptive heart, what can I expect?

1. The Word will Convict

If I begin in Genesis and read all the way to Revelation, it will not be long (Gen. 3) before I am convicted of my own egoism. The first sin was one of autonomy and self-sufficiency. In my own life, even as a minister, there are many times when I desperately try to get by without God. But that dog won’t hunt. Friends, when I pick up the Book, I should expect to be convicted, insulted, and crushed.

2. The Word will Change

One of the most foolish mistakes a person can make is refusing to allow God’s Word to transform the heart. God sends forth his Word expecting results (Isa. 55:10-11). What are those expected results? Metaphorically, God expects pine trees to grow from thorn bushes and myrtles from briers (Isa. 55:13). Practically, he expects his Word to produce radical transformation of the heart.

3. The Word will Carry

One of my favorite stanzas in hymnody is found in John Newton’s Amazing Grace. “‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” I believe the same principle applies to the Word. God’s very breath sustains his children. It is our bread and drink. His teachings dominate our thoughts. God’s Word carries us through our day, sustaining the soul though every “case of the Mondays.” Veterans of Bible study understand the psalmist’s sentiment: “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word” (Psa. 119:111, 114).

Will there ever be a day when the church is afraid of the Word’s power? Me genoita! God forbid! Our desire should be, forever and always, to be people of the Word. If it convicts, changes, and carries, then we can rest secure in the knowledge that God’s Word is not returning to him empty.

“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

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