How to Share Scripture with Compassion

Jun 7, 2024

Reading time: 7 Minutes

Bible open on a table

[As appeared on] I didn’t know him, but he knew me – or he thought he did. The two of us stood a few yards apart at the church basketball court, waiting on our kids to finish up a quick post-service game. He came over and introduced himself, a Bible app clearly pulled up on his phone. A few minutes later, I was blinking back tears and struggling to breathe.


Many of us have probably heard the Bible compared to a weapon, specifically a sword. Ephesians 6:10-18 lists the armor of God, concluding with the directive to “Take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” And Hebrews 4:12 says, “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.”


The imagery of a sword in those verses helps us understand the piercing power of the Bible. Most often, this is a good thing. Because the Word is God-breathed, it’s like no other book in existence. Wielding the sword of Scripture is absolutely effective in spiritual battles – that’s a promise!


But like a physical weapon, the Word of God can also be used improperly. If brandished about carelessly, the sword of Scripture can wound deeply. As such, we need to take our “weapon training” seriously so as not to inflict pain without cause. Let’s take a closer look.


Weaponizing Scripture: Avoid Careless Injury

After that encounter on the basketball court, my heart was seriously wounded, and not in a way that honored God. A passage was taken out of context and used with assumptions that didn’t apply to my situation. After processing through it with godly counselors who actually know me, my heart, and my circumstances, I was able to see the error and be encouraged with truth.


I don’t believe the man on that court wished to harm me. Most of us believers don’t quote Scripture with that intention at all. And yet, being on the receiving end of that misused weapon has taught me the following things regarding how I’d like to approach my own use of Scripture in the future.


  1. Seek understanding first. Proverbs 3:13 says, “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding.” Before quoting Scripture to a person, be sure you understand their situation. Don’t make assumptions based on hearsay. Asking a few gentle questions can help avoid a sword injury.
  2. Pray for guidance. We know that God does not want His Word used improperly; Jesus had a lot to say to religious leaders who were misusing the Law to harm others. If we ask God to help us correctly apply His Word in each situation, we can be sure that He’ll answer. John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
  3. Utilize the context of relationship. When Paul wrote his letters, he often used Scripture to boldly admonish sin and encourage righteousness. But those letters were far from a first-time introduction. Paul knew their particular struggles and circumstances within the context of a long-term relationship. Without an established foundation of love and trust, even the most well-meaning Scripture can come across as a little “stabby.”
  4. Don’t ignore the context of Scripture as a whole. In Matthew 4 we’re told how the devil cherry-picked verses, twisting them from the clear broader intention of Scripture. As believers, we need to be careful not to do the same.
  5. Take care in communication. Ephesians 4:15 reminds us to “speak the truth in love.” Love means examining both how the truth is spoken and how it may be received. Speaking the truth of “all things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28) to someone who’s suffering may not be received as loving in the moment. Speaking the truth of “your faith has made you well” (Mark 5:34) to the parent of a terminally sick child may be received as judgement over an implied lack of faith. It’s important that the timing, tone, and motivation reflects love before quoting Scripture.

two women talking seriously


Weaponizing Scripture: Use the Sword for Good

While we want to be careful not to weaponize the Word of God without cause, we can and should utilize the sword of the Spirit in battle with the enemy. The guide for the proper usage of Scripture is laid out in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Let’s examine each in turn.


  1. Use the sword to teach. Once again, Hebrews 4:12 reminds us of the power of Scripture to convict people to the core. Biblical teaching is imperative to spiritual growth. However, teachers have a great responsibility to “rightly handle the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15) and thus, should study the Word in context.
  2. Use the sword to rebuke. If we see sin in a believer’s life, we are responsible to say something. (Gal 6:1) Humbly and prayerfully pointing to Scripture during such a rebuke, if done properly, is a godly way to use the sword. If done in the power of the Holy Spirit, that’s a type of “injury” that could lead to repentance and healing.
  3. Use the sword to correct. Paul demonstrates correction in Galatians 5, as well as in other instances where he warns against false doctrine. Scripture helps to redirect a wayward or mistaken believer back to a path of holiness and sound doctrine.
  4. Use the sword to train in righteousness. God’s Word is the only roadmap we have for right living. Where culture tries to tell us what “feels right”, God’s Word tells us what is Using the Word to train in righteousness is necessary and good, when done in the context of the whole and in an attitude of love.


Weaponizing Scripture: What’s at Stake

Why is it so important to handle the Word of God well? Because those two minutes on the basketball court are not the whole story.


The man who approached me, Bible app in hand, didn’t know the bigger story. He didn’t know that I’d been believing false, damaging theology about God, myself, and my situation for decades. He didn’t know that I’d been untangling those lies for fifteen months with professional Christian counseling. So, in that moment, he couldn’t know how his words threatened to undo a work of redemption God had been doing in me.


He didn’t know my history with past church bodies. He didn’t know the scope of unfair judgment and humiliation I’d endured for sins not my own. So, in that moment, he couldn’t know the undertones I heard as he spoke: “See? Everyone is judging you again. It’s not safe here.”


He didn’t know, because I couldn’t tell him – not in two minutes, not to a stranger, not in front of my kids. So there I stood, silently bleeding out from his (potentially) well-intentioned sword use. And as I drove away, one pounding thought reverberated through my head: This is why people leave the church and never come back.


He didn’t know that. But now I do. And now you do, too. As believers, we carry a good and powerful weapon in the Word of God. But we must use the sword of the Spirit well. There are lives at stake.

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