“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword…” Heb. 4:12
In one of his excellent essays, George Morrison made the above statement, and I agree, and not just in the case of Hebrews 4:12. The same workings of God in the lives of men and women do not always produce the same results. This is because God, in His wisdom, chose to bestow on man the gift of free will (as far as we’re concerned), while all the time, operating under His Sovereign Will (as far as He’s concerned). Under this arrangement, both our actions and their consequences are the result of our response to God. D.L. Moody once said, “The same sun that melts the ice hardens the clay.” Here are three of the (I’m sure) many cases where this principle is in play.
We read in Romans 2:4, “…the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance”; yet when Jesus offered to gather up unrepentant Israel (Jerusalem) under His wing, as a mother hen would gather her chickens, they refused (Matt. 23:37). The prodigal son, by his own admission, forsook his father’s house of plenty for a place at the table with pigs. And did anyone know more of the greatness and goodness of God than the first pair, who succumbed to the reasoning of the devil instead? We all know people who gave up a wonderful home and the blessings of God to experience the “freedom” of self-indulgence. Such individuals have known the goodness of God and turned their backs on it, while others praise God continually for the blessings of a godly home and find its influence impossible to abandon. God’s tool of goodness and mercy is two-edged; it cuts both ways.
On the other hand, pain and suffering will produce a similar contradiction. The testimony of the Psalmist in Psalm 119 was that to him, affliction was a sign of God’s faithfulness (v. 75), a preventive against straying (v. 67), and a tutor in the God’s statutes. But we read in Revelation sixteen of people whose pain causes them to blaspheme God and refuse to repent. We love to read of how God used those who suffered pain, especially those from whose pen has come some of the loveliest verses and hymns in Christendom…Fanny Crosby, Francis Ridley Havergal, Martha Snell Nicholson, etc. But I’m thinking now of a blessed man of God who was president of a large Bible College, but who ended his own life because he could no longer endure his chronic pain. I’m not judging the man, I’m merely illustrating that pain can have mixed results in the life of both the godly and ungodly. It, too, is one of God’s two-edged tools.
Finally, we know this truth is seen most vividly in the effect of God’s Word on men and women. He promises that the words that come from His mouth, the Bible, will not “return void.” They will accomplish His will the end for which they were attended. But He does not specify what that will be. To the extent of our freedom of volition, what we do with those words will determine what they accomplish in our lives. I use the word “do,” because that’s what James says: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (1:22). The Word of God is a fine-tuned instrument of division and discernment and delight in those who give it free course in their lives; but to those who put up their shields of disbelief and disobedience it becomes a clanging noise of irritation that does them more harm than good, since it increases their accountability before God.
Mark it down, my treasured readers; God is using His tools on you and me. And they’re all two-edged. We must determine what their results will be. May His goodness lead us to repentance…every time; may any pain we suffer make us look to Him and become a chiseling tool to make us more like Him; and may His Word cut us not “to the quick,” but to the heart. Oh, to be putty in the hands of God, ever yielding to His workings! May we be willing to borrow Jeremiah’s words to princes and address them to God instead.
“As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.” (26:14)