In Hebrews Chapter 4, looking at a familiar verse: “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.” (vs. 12)
The “logos” of God is so many things. It is a message, a spoken word, an idea, or a concept. In John, he unifies the Word or Logos as God itself. As with this verse, there is a life and energy about logos when it is uttered by God. The image of a 2-edged sword implies a dual nature. This type of sword is used on the battlefield for both offensive and defensive purposes.
What offensive and defensive ways does the word of God work on you?
I think of this as God’s ability to encourage and convict, inspire and challenge, and infuse boldness and humility. Interestingly, though, the part that stood out to me in studying this was actually the very last part of the verse, “it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”. The Greek word for thoughts is enthusmesis which is defined as the inner-passion and emotional force that drives our thoughts. So, while in English they used the word thought, it is really the force behind the thought. The word attitude used is the Greek word ennoia, which means inner-mind, or the actual thoughts we are reflecting and considering. What is being judged or critiqued is the inner-mind and inner-passions springing forth from the heart. In ancient times, the heart was thought to be our center self, the places where thoughts and feelings came from.
What struck me in this simple sentence is what is not mentioned; behaviors. I think we often view God, which includes the message, scripture, and word of God as something that judges our actions. As if a there is a checklist God keeps to mark if we are going to church, reading our bible, giving money as tithe, etc.
Time and time again the Bible reminds me, as with this scripture, that it isn’t the outside that he cares about. It’s not our doing as much as it is our internal posture. What are my motives, my attitude, and my emotional state and thoughts about the people and circumstances around me? That is what God cares about.
I recently heard a talk by Rich Villodas, author of “The Deeply Formed Life” in which he said “The measure of my discipleship is the state of my heart towards those who are different from me.” Again it’s not what I do as much where my heart is that is significant.
That concept alone, which both terrifies and invigorates me, is the epitome of double-edged sword in action!