I don’t know about you but yearn for the days when “news outlets” reported the actual facts and left the opinion pieces to the editors. I spend hours a day looking at multiple sources to simply understand what the issue really is and what the facts are. It is certainly frustrating. I reminds me of a conversation that I had with our son who often said, “Technically Dad, this is correct”. I never operated in a world of “technicality” so I was quick to reminded him that if he has to start a sentence that way, it probably wasn’t going to go over well with me. Granted, I’ve written before that “words have meaning” and choosing the right words are important but to hang on to the technical meaning is taking it too literally.
Words can convey power, sympathy, love and compassion. I’d also suggest that verbal communication is the key to a properly functioning society. We could do everything in writing but we’d never hear the emotion of the speaker. Have you heard someone tell you that they sensed “tone” in your email? ALL CAPS now means screaming and text messages have replaced a phone call, which at one point replaced letter writing. We still handwrite thank you notes in our house – old school, I know. How we communicate says a lot about our care for others. Taking the time to stop and look someone in the eye to say thank you or taking the time to speak to someone in person so that you can share the moment together is becoming a thing of the past. The pandemic has certainly created distance between us as humans. We might not always be able to see one another but hearing a familiar voice is the next best thing. Words have meaning and I’d like to add so does how you convey them.
“4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” 1 Corinthians 2:4-5
St. Paul had little chance to see people in person. Persecuted and imprisoned, Paul found himself writing letters to churches all over the region. He didn’t write fancy letters or tell stories, he wrote about God’s plan and desires for His kingdom. Paul was determined to share the power of the Holy Spirit who was working through him as the messenger. Are you a messenger of the Holy Spirit? God uses us in many different ways to be a messenger of His word. Faith, words, actions, character, abilities, trials and triumphs all come from God. We don’t have to be wise or learned to share the power of the Holy Spirit.
We can’t see God’s work in our lives because we rest on human wisdom. We cannot comprehend the power of the Holy Spirit and its work in all that we do. Just as we cannot imagine the lengths that the devil will go to in an attempt to get us to turn away from God. Our disappointment at not getting that promotion or another health issue or the allure of a bigger chance if we just turn ever so slightly away from God. Paul is encouraging us to let our faith rest on God’s power and not our own. We are not strong enough but with God, everything is possible.
Last week I mentioned the exercise that I participated in. Each year that we do one of these, a theme emerges that can be funny or simply defines our overall emotions but it is always what keeps us going through the long days. This year’s theme was “words mean something”. In life and death situations, words really do mean something; even the order in which they are said. “Cut the red wire. Before doing so, cut the white one” This is a simple example of timing. A friend of mine is working on program in response to the question “what is the value of a firefighter?” The context of the program is based on the premise suggested by NPR, that firefighters are sometimes too expensive to keep around. Others will see that statement and try to answer the “value” part by showing how important they are to a community. Words mean something. Misunderstandings and miscommunications are all around us at home and at work. People reply with “that’s not what I meant!” but the hurt feelings are already there, so it really doesn’t matter what they meant to say. I’m seeing younger people today who have a hard time verbally expressing themselves. Their sentences are short and void of emotion, if it can’t be said in a text or e-mail, they just aren’t saying it. How are we to supposed to deal with them? When we speak with them we can ask them to repeat back to us what they “think” we said. We can ask them how they want to be communicated with. One thing is for sure; we must choose our words carefully knowing that each one has the possibility of meaning more than one thing to a new generation of young people. This generation may have a slightly different dictionary version than we do. We must be flexible and patient, our role is to continue to lead them.
“because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5
The bible is such a great book but it too can be filled opportunities for misinterpretation. Look at the various churches that claim to offer insight into God’s word and then proceed to tell you how to live your life. The gospel did come to us with great power; we can impact people’s lives by following the words given to us. We are not the judges of other people’s lives, the bible tells us that. The Holy Spirit is present in our lives but so is the devil, and they are constantly fighting for our attention. It is the deep conviction that we have in our faith that keeps the devil in check. Our words mean something; they are the light into our heart. Do you openly profess your love and belief in Jesus Christ? When given the chance to gossip about someone, do you jump on it? Do you lie about things in your life or take advantage of your boss who isn’t paying attention? These are all windows into your heart. The bible is more than just words; it is the WORD of God, given to us through the Holy Spirit who inspired its writers. The words and stories are told in such a way to bring meaning to each word. These words mean something. At the end of the day, we must watch our words and our actions because as they say, actions speak louder than words. The bible is our guide. No matter what we’ve done or said, we are forgiven by the grace of God and Jesus taking our sins onto Himself so we may have eternal life. Now that is plain and simple no matter how you say it.