I stumbled over my words in explanation. The reply to my stammering was quick, “Well, out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” I floundered in speech even more and the tension in the room rose. Yet the barrage of half quoted Bible verses kept coming rapid-fire in short, cutting bursts. The awkwardness had become palpable and I felt, not cut to the core with conviction, but exposed and bleeding.
I was in a group meant to help its participants understand the healing power of the Gospel and it was one of the worst experiences I have ever had in Christian community. Even though it was almost nine years ago, I still feel its negative effects today. Crudely put, the Word of God had been used not as a sword to cut to my heart, or a scalpel to remove my sin, but as a shank to punch a bunch of holes in me hoping to reveal something dark, sinister, and broken to justify using it that way.
The Right Tool Used the Wrong Way
Sadly my experience is not unique. There are many people in our churches and communities (because they left the church), whose experience with the Bible is one where they know not the healing fountain of Truth but only a tool to maim and wound. Might we collectively lament this reality — that the very Word of God, used by God the Holy Spirit to bring comfort, conviction, encouragement, and so many more good things, would be misused and abused.
I’m not saying that if the Bible is misused that God can’t and won’t use it for his good purposes, but that is like saying just because I can use an axe to build an intricate dollhouse I should.
A Narrow View of God’s Word
The Word of God is so much more powerful than a shank to maim someone, win an argument against, or to show off your intellect. Might we begin to appreciate, celebrate, and use the Word of God rightly as we are exhorted to by the author of Hebrews:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:12-13
When the Word of God is wielded rightly in the hands of a loving and kind minister of the Gospel, it’s full might is unleashed and its work is done in power. A shallow use of the Word to control a person or prove a point leaves the subject wounded and the Word ultimately underused.
Conviction to Use the Word Wisely
Maybe you’re feeling convicted about mishandling the Word of Truth or you have overseen a leader who might have done harm to others with the Word of God. Let me remind you that the Word itself leads us back to the never-ending stream of Grace to repent, seek forgiveness, and be forgiven (Eph 1:7, Matt 5:24). Pursuing this might be the very thing the Lord uses to restore a wandering sheep to the fold.
Might we all grow in our understanding and use of the good gift of the Word of God that the Lord is pleased to use to achieve his purposes (Isaiah 55:11). It is a mighty sword in the hands of those who use it, a sword that does the powerful work that the Lord desires to do in the hearts, minds, and souls of his people. This truly is a cause for celebration and thanksgiving.