Caution: Words Ahead


I have an appreciation for certain historical quotes, and particularly for the words of Winston Churchill, C.S. Lewis, Abraham Lincoln, Will Rogers, Mark Twain.

“A modest little person, with much to be modest about.”  Winston Churchill

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”  C.S. Lewis

“People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  Abraham Lincoln

“It’s easy being a humorist when you’ve got the whole government working for you.”  Will Rogers

“Few things are more irritating than when someone who is wrong is also very effective in making his point.”  Mark Twain

I can’t seem to find the entertainment in TV show dialogue anymore. I don’t remember the last time a sitcom made me laugh, or a drama made me feel something. Too much of the time the humor seems to be portrayed as verbal warfare, and dramatized exchanges are just one person insisting they are right.

If we made a list of the things we have become skilled at, would “use of words and phrases” make the list? I wouldn’t say I am skilled with words or phrases.

Perhaps most troubling is the decline in verbal skills isn’t limited to ability to convey but in quality also. TV shows, music, movies, overheard elevator conversations, and roadway outbursts would seem to confirm that observation: when one feels like they are not being heard, volume and rhetoric and insults increase. I will merely point to U.S. politics and the collection of people identified by the media as “celebrities” as examples.

We want to be heard. We long to be understood. We have a strong desire to be accepted. But a battle of words has no winner. Even the person who has the last word still loses respect, dignity, trust. The Bible has quite a bit to say about reckless use of words.

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 ESV

“I said, ‘I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.’” Psalm 39:1 ESV

“Even a fool when he holds his peace is considered wise; when he closes his lips he is esteemed a man of understanding.” Proverbs 17:28 AMP

Jesus had something to say about it:

“…for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:37

Words to live by.

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