Does the idea of being laid bare before God fill you with comfort? Or with fear? So discerning and probing is God’s Word, the author of Hebrews writes in today’s passage, it is capable of judging not only the thoughts, but also the intentions of the heart. So precise is its incision, it divides “soul from spirit, joints from marrow.” “Before God,” the writer continues, “no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.”
When I studied cello as a kid, I always dreaded going to my lessons, knowing I would be held to account for how much — or, as the case may be, how little — I had practiced that week. As soon as I put bow to strings, it would be obvious that I hadn’t spent enough time working on what my teacher had assigned me. My stilted notes and stumbling fingers would rat me out. I would be laid bare, so to speak.
God’s living and active word, as described in today’s passage, might similarly fill us with some trepidation. Seeing our shortcomings and failings in the light of the truth can be difficult; compunction isn’t easy. Even the most skilled surgical incision is still painful.
And yet, as we see elsewhere in Scripture, the one who discerns our very thoughts and intentions is the very one who created us, the very one who redeems us, the very one who sits on the throne of grace, ready to dispense mercy in our time of need. When we remember we are in loving hands, we rid ourselves of fear and join the psalmist in making this bold request:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.