“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth”
While my daughters munched on morning toast and cereal, I toted a yogurt around the house, eating an occasional spoonful in between changing diapers, putting away blankets, feeding the cats and all the normal start-the-day chores.
“Well,” she explained, “I saw that commercial on TV and they said you could eat that yogurt and lose your weight like even 5 pounds maybe and it would be easy.”
Thanks Mr. advertiser, sir, for making my six-year-old a personal diet coach.
Truth hurts a little sometimes, doesn’t it?
At least it should. When Jesus prayed for the disciples, He asked God to “sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Sanctify means to make holy and that’s what this Bible with all of its packed-in and sometimes painful truth is supposed to be working out in our lives–our sanctification, our holiness, our transformation into Christ-likeness.
While the truth sometimes comforts us, it also shakes us up a bit. It reminds us of ways we need to change and calls us to repentance.
When I read God’s Word quickly, glossing over the Scripture passages just so I can check off my Bible reading for the day, I miss out on the conviction and also the power of God to change me.
Sometimes reading the Bible should make me squirm a bit in my chair or turn my face hot with sorrow at revealed sin. Because I’m not perfect. Because I don’t want to stay this way. Because I want people to look at me and see Christ and as I am now, I’m an imperfect reflection.
Oswald Chambers wrote:
When Jesus drives something home to you through His Word, don’t try to evade it. If you do, you will become a religious impostor. Examine the things you tend simply to shrug your shoulders about, and where you have refused to be obedient, and you will know why you are not growing spiritually.
The author of Hebrews said:
For the word of God is alive 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.
The Word of God is wielded as a scalpel by a Master Surgeon, cutting into our wounded and broken places, separating out what is healthy flesh from what is diseased, dead, and necrotic. The Surgeon doesn’t dissect in order to hurt and bring pain; He cuts deep to bring health, healing and wholeness.
And if we never feel the sting of the knife’s blade or run our hands over a scar left in place of the wound, then we’ve never allowed His Word to clean out the pockets of sin buried in hidden places of our life.
It’s not that the Bible becomes a club of accusation or that it’s never an encouraging or comforting word. It’s not just that Scripture points a finger in our face and dumps burdens of shame on our back. Not at all. Romans 8:1 promises us: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
No, Scripture reminds us of our mistakes, but accompanies that with the offer of grace. It’s always a package deal.
Ezra, the high priest of Israel, and Nehemiah finally finished rebuilding the temple and walls of Jerusalem after returning from exile. They gathered “all who could understand” into the square while Ezra read aloud the Book of the Law of Moses. The crowd listened in silence, except for their weeping as God’s Word uncovered their disobedience.
The people stood for hours, morning until noon, each day while he read, and they fasted and donned sackcloth and dumped ashes on their head in sorrow for their sin. Theirs was the natural response of people who were attentive to God’s Word.
In the midst of their distress, their hearts brought low in shame, they declared, “But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Nehemiah 9:17).
Oh yes, truth hurts sometimes. If it’s never painful or uncomfortable, maybe we’ve tuned it out or accepted watered-down adaptations. Even as we wince with pain, though, we know that the one yielding the scalpel does so with grace and compassion, pouring out a healing balm of forgiveness that washes away the signs of sin.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King