What does the Word of God do? What happens when we read it or hear it proclaimed?
God’s Word does challenge us. Have you read/heard what He says and demands of us? Have you really seen Jesus? Who is this Man? His example and commands are incredible and seemingly unattainable. We must see that what God/Christ requires of us is good and that it is challenging.
God’s Word also convicts us. Not only is it challenging, it is revealing. When we see a good command, then look into ourselves, we often find no desire to obey. Like looking into a mirror, we see ourselves as we really are not as we’d like ourselves to be. We see our sins and our nature as sinners. That’s the surgery of conviction.
But God’s Word, when believed and trusted, comforts us. There is harshness at times but also such tremendous softness. When we hear what we are (sinners), we are also told we are friends and children. We are told that we are sinful but also forgiven and made righteous. We are weighted down by commands one moment, and then empowered to live them the next. We told how great the Father’s love is for us. We’re told what Christ did for us and how He loves us. We’re told He’s still praying for us.
There could be inferred some logical order to Challenge, Convict, and Comfort. Something like how the Word challenges us, then when we find we can’t live up to it we’re convicted, and then the comfort swoops in to save the day. Truth is that it can do all those things concurrently – maybe even in the same passage during the same reading. When you have faith in the whole of God’s counsel, there is always comfort. But I hope that I never stop being convicted of my sin (that drives me to more comfort!). And I hope that I will never blunt the challenge to live as God commands and be like my Lord.
Be Challenged! Be Convicted! Be Comforted! …not necessarily in that order…