"Word up!" … Yup!

  1. Words may show a man’s wit but actions his meaning.
  2. In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
  3. He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.
  4. It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read.
  5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. For example, don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
  6. Be generous with kindly words, especially about those who are absent.
  7. Words, like nature, half reveal and half conceal the soul within.
  8. Words differently arranged have a different meaning, and meanings differently arranged have different effects.
  9. The chief virtue that language can have is clearness, and nothing detracts from it so much as the use of unfamiliar words.
  10. Words derive their power from the original word.

I’ve enjoyed my little search recently to uncover what people have said through the years about our words. In my list are quotes by people who hold to varying philosophies, but their insights into the spoken word has triggered my thoughts on the matter . . .  of words, that is. 🙂
As I’ve said before, my grandfather, my father and my husband were/are all pastor/teachers, so words are a huge part of our family’s history/life. That’s funny. Even now I tried to use a word to define what they are/do. I was about to choose the word “preachers”. But, I don’t hear the word used that much anymore. Not only that, when it IS used, it’s often in a negative sense. Most people don’t like to be “preached AT.” (I sometimes write like Paul. Start a thought, think of something else, write about it, then come back to the original thought! :)) Okay, back to the point.  My brother is a journalist – words are basically everything in his field of work. I work as the Administrative Assistant for my company and I understand the importance of using words correctly in a technical sense (i.e. spelling, grammar).
So the whole point of this blog is this: Is the fact that the meanings of words change a good thing or a bad thing or neutral? 🙂

Words. They are usually only as powerful as the acts that go along with them. Words from a person who is always giving empty promises mean nothing. Words from a politician who only wants our vote, but will actually never carry out their words with actions, have no meaning either. Words spoken from pulpits across our world that are not lived out by the person speaking them do not usually inspire change in any of us. We all know that words can build up or tear down. The bible has so many things to say about our words. Proverbs and James especially speak to the importance of using “good” words.

Here’s the problem, though: The meanings of words are always changing. My kids constantly introduce new words to us. Usually they aren’t actually new words, they just mean something new! 🙂 How many times have you listened to someone speak and then thought but what do they mean by that? Apparently our words alone are often not enough. For example, the word “religion”. More recently the word has been known to elicit negative feelings. I have often heard someone say that you either have a religion OR a relationship. We can argue that religion in the Bible isn’t a bad word (and I have), but we can’t change that the word itself might initially lead people to negative thoughts.  Brent has often said, quoting Carl F H Henry, that he is a “fundamentalist in theology but not in temperament.” What he wants to communicate is that he is a fundamentalist (the belief that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore true) when it comes to the Bible, but he is always fighting against the fundamentalism of the Pharisees (in his actions/attitude).

So as I strive to communicate using words with a generation before me (my parents) and a generation after me (my kids), what is that going to look like? I think it basically boils down to the life that I live! I’ve actually tried to use fewer words in my blogs/emails/notes recently (although I am very aware that this one is already too long and many have stopped reading it :)). I have concluded that, generally, fewer words – but impactful ones – are better than more words that are empty and repetitive. Why? Because my words are only a very small part of the real me. I can say I believe something to be true. I can even shout it. I can sing it. I can make it my status on Facebook.
But unless those closest to me SEE it in my life, all the talking in the world won’t change what they conclude about what I say. I recently posted on Facebook some comments by David Platt about universalism, which has been the topic of debate in Christian circles. What he says AND how he lives is what sparked these thoughts in my heart today.
“Yes, let’s fight universalism with our words. But let’s also fight universalism with our lives.”

‘Nuff said! 🙂 I know what you are thinking if have you stuck it out until the end. Way more than ’nuff! 🙂

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