Don’t Trust in Lists


It didn’t take long. I may have been up a whole 3 min. before I barked at one of the kids about the yogurt that had been spilled the night before. Dried yogurt is goopy and especially nasty to clean out of carpets.

It feels like the older I get the more I struggle with patience. It’s on these days that I love coming across practical lists like “10 ways to bite your tongue” or “7 secrets to a joy-filled day.” But I have come to realize that such lists, while helpful in some ways, will not and cannot bring about lasting change.

My “issues” (problems, weaknesses, sins) go deep. So deep, in fact, that lists can’t reach them. My problem has its root all the way down to my heart. I need work to be done there before true change can take place in my life.

Lists aren’t bad, but they aren’t powerful. There is only only One who is wise enough, powerful enough, and loving enough to help a sinner like me–Jesus. I know this sounds anticlimactic, maybe even a little boring and too simple. But we only feel that way when we don’t understand our hearts or the heinousness of our sins. Only when we see the real problem will we flee to Jesus for help. I love Thomas Watson’s advice here:

Beg of Christ to exercise his spiritual surgery upon you. Desire him to lance your heart and cut out the rotten flesh, and that he would apply the medicine of his blood to heal you.

I have some rotten stuff that needs to be cut out, and Jesus is the only one who has the power and skill to do it. And his instrument of choice is a sword. The sword that he uses is Scripture, and while he is the one who uses it for our good, we must also wield it in this spiritual battle.

Since I love lists so much, I must make my own here. But remember, the power is not in the list but in the sword.

3 Truths About the Sword of Scripture

1. It is God’s Word

The sword of the spirit which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17)

Satan knows something that we often forget. He knows how very powerful the word of God is which is why he tries to keep us from reading it. Sadly it doesn’t take much to distract us. But we must know this; God chose to become an author and the word he has shared with us is one of the greatest treasures he has given. He has spoken, and his word is perfect, sure, right, and pure reviving the soul, enlightening the eyes, and rejoicing the heart! (Psalm 19)

 2. It is a Powerful Word

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. Heb. 4:12

This sword, because it is God’s word, is a powerful word. His word has the ability reach into the deepest places of our lives, our very souls.  No other author can reach us in the same way that God’s word can. His sword can cut out rebellion and remove apathy. With it’s fiery blade it can melt a cold heart. It can break our hearts when it is stubborn and proud, and restore our hearts to love God and others. His words are not simply letters on a page, but they are supernatural words that can do in our lives what nothing else can: bring lasting change.

3. It is a Fighting Word

Put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you. Col 3:5a

We are called to kill, slaughter and slay our sin, and this requires a sword. More precisely the supernatural sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Real change, the change I need to experience, is the destruction of sin in my life. And that requires the powerful sword of Scripture used by Jesus in my own heart.

Lists are great. They are filled with wonderful practical ideas. But they will have no lasting effect on our lives if we don’t first look to the words that have true power, the sword of the Spirit, the book of our Almighty God.

Jen Thorn

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