A Word About Words From The Word

Title: A Word About Words From The Word
Category: Devotions
Subject: Words
A Word about Words from the Word

Among the thousands of words in the English language, someone has observed that the three most difficult are "I was wrong;" the two most delightful are "check enclosed" and the most dynamic single word is the word "salvation."

Words are very interesting! When a person studies the meaning, origin and historical development of words they are involved in the field of etymology. Another closely related endeavor is lexicography, which is the process of making a dictionary.

The famous poet, editor, author, lexicographer and president of Funk & Wagnalls, Dr. Wilfred J. Funk, was asked to select the 10 most expressive words in the English language. Here is the list: the most bitter word-alone; the most tragic-death; the most revered-mother; the most beautiful-love; the most cruel-revenge; the most peaceful-tranquil; the saddest-forgotten; the warmest-friendship; the coldest-no; the most comforting-faith.

Several years ago my dad shared the following clipping: "A careless word may kindle strife; a cruel word may wreck a life. A bitter word may hate instill; a brutal word may smite and kill. A gracious word may smooth the way; a joyous word may light the day. A timely word may lessen strife; a loving word may heal and bless." Similarly, Edward Rowland Sill makes the following keen observation in his poem titled "The Fool's Prayer": "The ill-timed truth we might have kept-Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung? The word we had not sense to say-Who knows how grandly it had rung?

Words are sometimes inadequate. For instance, after viewing "The Passion" in Washington D.C. with many of the "movers and shakers," Paul Harvey confessed, "No one could speak because words were woefully inadequate." When the apostle Paul considered our Lord Jesus Christ he declared: "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15). In a similar vein, Carl Boberg penned these familiar words that were translated into English by Reverend Stuart K. Hine: "And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in-- That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin. Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee; how great Thou art, how great Thou art!"

Words are often indicative. For example, Jesus issued this warning to the Pharisees, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34b). On this text a country preacher offered this homespun commentary, "What's in the well comes up in the bucket." Our Lord continues, ". . . every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:36b-37).

James wisely laments: "But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison'' (James 3:8). Guy H. King offers the following comment on this verse in his classic titled A Belief That Behaves: An Expositional Study of the Epistle of James: "The deadly drug does not need to be taken in large dose- a drop or two will suffice; and the tongue does not need to distill long speeches, it has but to drop a word, and the mischief is set afoot. Thus has a peace been ruined, thus has a reputation been blackened, thus has a friendship been embittered, thus has a mind been poisoned, thus has a life been blasted" (London, England: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1941), p. 63.

May the following scriptural medley be our daily prayer: "Set a guard over my mouth, keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of my mouth, but only what is helpful for the building up of others that it might benefit all those who listen. For the Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue to know the words that sustain the weary. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing unto Thee, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."