Words We Live By

9 09 2015

Dead Poets Society (1989)

“So avoid using the word very, because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavour, laziness will not do.” ~ Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society (1989)

All joking aside, Robin Williams wasn’t too far from the point.  I, would argue to say that wooing women is certainly not the only reason.  Words and how we use them are a crucial factor in how we relate to people.  It’s said that actions speak louder than words; however, I’d wager that the words we speak, are more potent than we can imagine.

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” ~Proverbs 12:18 (NIV)

I’ve come again to the realization that our biggest weaknesses, are present because their antonym is the potential of our greatest strength.  Biblically, Satan does not want us to reach our potential, or even put effort towards it.  He does not want us to love, or be kind, or joyful, or peaceful, or patient, or good, or in-control of ourselves; he loathes all these.   Satan will most likely find all the little things, those “seeds” of contention, and slowly build up his walls of deceit against you.  Slowly but surly.  At first, you may not notice, it may not even be related to your strengths, because if he attacked there first, you would likely defend yourself.  He burrows underneath first, to take you out at the knees when the opportunity strikes.

For me, I believe that one of my strengths is using words.  Sometimes it’s eloquent and wise, and well-thought out.  Sometimes (more often) it’s a jumble of poorly conceived ideas.  Either way though, I love to write and use words.  I rest in the thought that God has allowed me this gift, both as a talent and a blessing.  Being able to encourage people through words is something that, up until recently, I’ve done but never done intentionally.  It sort-of comes naturally to me.  But, I had never protected it with the simple task of being intentional.

I must confess, that in certain crowds, my language can be crass, rude, and downright vulgar.  Because those crowds are not offended by it.  In fact: if I swear or curse, it grabs their attention or allows me to blend in.  I use words to assimilate into my surroundings.  It was a relational thing i think; something inherently good (trying to be friends with people), but it was the wrong thing.  I still don’t believe that every swear word is unacceptable to use; but it’s like playing with fire: you will get burned.  I took Romans 14:14 out of context I think.

“I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.” ~Romans 14:14 (NIV)

I think my “choice words”, while not entirely evil, was that small, undermining step that keeps me (or kept) me from a greater potential.  Because if I had to choose my words carefully to keep from offending someone, than it puts me on the verbal defensive.  I can’t be offensive (in the good sense of the word, metaphorically speaking).  I can’t be natural in speaking my mind, which often surprises myself with how much wisdom and encouragement God put in there.

If you fill up your personal thesaurus with words not everyone wants to hear, there’s no point in saving them.  There are so many better things that could be said.  If you want to make a strong point, loud and crass language will make you heard, but likely those words will not be kept and understood.



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