Imagine that you are not feeling well, so you schedule a visit with your doctor. After your checkup he tells you, "You've got a heart problem. We need to perform open-heart surgery."
So there you are, on the operating table, and the doctor is pulling out his tools of the trade...including, of course, his scalpel.
"Oh, Doctor," you say, "that looks very sharp, very painful. Do you think you could use something different?"
"What did you have in mind?"
After a moment's thought, you reply, "Maybe a feather-duster? That wouldn't hurt so much."
The doctor smiles, pulls a feather-duster out of his cabinet, brushes it several times over your heart, and then says, "There you go! Good as new!"
What would you think of this doctor? Surely you would think he was a quack? Although the scalpel may hurt, it's necessary for the healing of your heart.
It seems absurd to imagine asking a doctor to perform surgery on your heart without cutting you, and probably causing some pain. And though we would never expect this kind of painless treatment in the physical world, we often expect it in the spiritual world. We want God to perform healing on our hearts without causing us pain.
This is exactly the mentality Paul is talking about in 2 Timothy, where he writes:
The word of God is sharp and piercing, and is necessary for our spiritual well-being. Yet how often we say, "I'd rather hear something that entertains me, that tickles my ears!" But God's word is like that doctor's scalpel; its purpose is not to entertain or tickle; its purpose is to wound, and in wounding, bring healing to our wayward hearts.
Are you willing to come "under the knife" of the word of God, allowing it to injure you so that you can be healed? Or do you merely want to be entertained?
Wounding or tickling? One way is painless, but it leads to spiritual weakness and disease. The other way may be painful, but it is the only way to spiritual health and strength.