Tag Archives: words


I have a love/hate relationship with words and language.  I’m really a mathematician.  Words, and structuring them into a sentence (as you’d know if you could see all the red squiggly lines as I type) are really not my thing.  And annoyingly one of the symptoms of my illness is that I often struggle to find the word I need (again if you knew how long I hovered over words trying to find the right one…).  But we need words if we are ever going to be understood by anyone else.

Language is important. A stray letter that changes meaning; a regional word that others don’t understand; where one word has several meanings, or different spellings with the same pronunciation.  A trip somewhere speaking a different language soon alerts you to the importance of being able to understand what others are saying.

Language is unimportant.  The niceties, the semantics – the quibbling over words and meanings.  Arguments over grammar and punctuation. A meaningless exercise as long as we can get the gist of what someone else is saying.

2 Timothy 2:8-15 (CEV)

Keep your mind on Jesus Christ! He was from the family of David and was raised from death, just as my good news says. And because of this message, I am locked up in jail and treated like a criminal. But God’s good news isn’t locked in jail, 10 and so I am willing to put up with anything. Then God’s special people will be saved. They will be given eternal glory because they belong to Christ Jesus. 11 Here is a true message:

“If we died with Christ,
    we will live with him.
12 If we don’t give up,
    we will rule with him.
If we deny
    that we know him,
he will deny
    that he knows us.
13 If we are not faithful,
    he will still be faithful.
Christ cannot deny
    who he is.”

An Approved Worker

14 Don’t let anyone forget these things. And with God as your witness, you must warn them not to argue about words. These arguments don’t help anyone. In fact, they ruin everyone who listens to them. 15 Do your best to win God’s approval as a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed and who teaches only the true message.

Paul tells Timothy,

you must warn them not to argue about words

Words don’t matter.  Arguing over words, meanings, the order of them is not important.  What matters is our actions.  Not what we say – we can all construct a beautiful sentence or argument if we need to – it doesn’t necessarily mean anything unless we back it up.  We might think it puts on a good impression, but do our words mean what they say?  How we behave shows what is really in our hearts.  Our work shows the truth of our lives.  We can no longer hide behind an artificial construct, or carefully built arguments.  How we get our hands dirty shows our true message.  That is what God is looking at.

It’s easy enough to talk the talk, do we walk the walk to go with it?

We need to keep our eyes and mind on Jesus.  To be living his way.

it is easy to big myself up,
put on a good show,
say all the right things…

But do I back that up
with how I behave?
The things that I do?
In my actions,
not just my words?

Forgive me Lord,
when I judge others by their words,
their accents,
their grammar.
May I remember that it is not words that count
– but actions;
in me as well!

May my words,
and my actions
“I love you”

Trick Question?

This is largely a re-blog from Lent when I followed the BigRead using Tom Wright’s Lent for Everyone – Mark.

Anyone who has watched any police programme on the television, will be familiar with the phrase,

Anything you do say may be given in evidence

Jesus is again asked a question, not because the Pharisees particularly want to know what he thinks, not because they are trying to gain a deeper understand of his teaching, but because they are trying to trick him into saying something that they can use to undermine him, discredit him, and generally have something to use as evidence that he is up to no good.

Mark 10:2-16

Teaching about Divorce

2Some Pharisees wanted to test Jesus. So they came up to him and asked if it was right for a man to divorce his wife. 3Jesus asked them, “What does the Law of Moses say about that?”

4They answered, “Moses allows a man to write out divorce papers and send his wife away.”

5Jesus replied, “Moses gave you this law because you are so heartless. 6But in the beginning God made a man and a woman. 7That’s why a man leaves his father and mother and gets married. 8He becomes like one person with his wife. Then they are no longer two people, but one. 9And no one should separate a couple that God has joined together.”

10When Jesus and his disciples were back in the house, they asked him about what he had said. 11He told them, “A man who divorces his wife and marries someone else is unfaithful to his wife. 12A woman who divorces her husband and marries again is also unfaithful.”

Jesus Blesses Little Children

13 Some people brought their children to Jesus so that he could bless them by placing his hands on them. But his disciples told the people to stop bothering him.

14 When Jesus saw this, he became angry and said, “Let the children come to me! Don’t try to stop them. People who are like these little children belong to the kingdom of God. 15 I promise you that you cannot get into God’s kingdom, unless you accept it the way a child does.” 16 Then Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them by placing his hands on them.

Tom Wright reminds us (p 95) of the situation of the man whose territory they are in, Herod Antipas, whose marriage to his brother’s wife involved divorce.  They knew that John the Baptists challenging of that had got him into trouble – perhaps they are hoping that the same might happen to Jesus if they can get him to say something that could be construed as condemnation of Herod – thus their dirty work would be done for them.  Herod would get rid of Jesus and the challenge he posed to them as the accepted religious leaders would be gone.

As ever, Jesus cleverly gets them to answer their own question – the words come from their own mouths.  They cannot deny their own teaching, but Jesus teaches into their understanding.  This is what you think… this is what God really meant.

I suppose the challenge for us, is do we get caught up in what we think God means and wants?  Do we half-remember things, try to put words into God’s mouth?  Do we proffer personal opinion as God’s word? Do we get on our high horse about what we believe – without always checking that out with God?  I know I do…

Forgive me Lord

for the times when I confuse my opinion with yours;

when I focus on what I think,

not what you say.

May my thoughts and my words

always find their foundation in you


Talk the Talk

I guess I’m someone who often has a lot to say on a subject, even if those words are more often thought or typed than said out loud these days.  That doesn’t mean that everything I have to say is useful – or even helpful.

If we are going to be wise, as we looked at in Proverbs, we so need to think about our tongues and how we use our speech…

James 3:1-12

The Tongue

3 My friends, we should not all try to become teachers. In fact, teachers will be judged more strictly than others. All of us do many wrong things. But if you can control your tongue, you are mature and able to control your whole body.

By putting a bit into the mouth of a horse, we can turn the horse in different directions. It takes strong winds to move a large sailing ship, but the captain uses only a small rudder to make it go in any direction. Our tongues are small too, and yet they brag about big things.

It takes only a spark to start a forest fire! The tongue is like a spark. It is an evil power that dirties the rest of the body and sets a person’s entire life on fire with flames that come from hell itself. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures can be tamed and have been tamed. But our tongues get out of control. They are restless and evil, and always spreading deadly poison.

9-10 My dear friends, with our tongues we speak both praises and curses. We praise our Lord and Father, and we curse people who were created to be like God, and this isn’t right. 11 Can clean water and dirty water both flow from the same spring? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives or a grapevine produce figs? Does fresh water come from a well full of salt water?

Our tongues are such a small part of our body, but when we use them to talk, we can do big things with them – we can either do great good, or cause great harm by what we say.

Do we want to be known as someone who spreads deadly poison, who is constantly calling people, who never has a good word to say about anyone or anything?  Do we want to be someone whose words are destructive?  Or do we want to be someone who always has a pleasant word, who goes out of their way to praise others and encourage them?  Do we want to be the source of dirty water or clean?  Someone who praises or curses?

You can bet if we are known for always having something unhelpful to say that no one would hear anything we have to say about God – or if they do, it will be tainted by also hearing our bad attitude.  Hmmm…

 Let my words and my thoughts
be pleasing to you, Lord,
because you are my mighty rock
and my protector.

(Psalm 19:14 Contemporary English Version)