Tag Archives: Misuse of the English Language

The Language Barrier

1 May

Read: 2 Timothy 1:13 – 3:4

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

2 Timothy 2:15 NASB

My area of the country with its winding rivers and abundant farmland is home away from home for a large number of migrant workers.  Because this is not their native land, it is not surprising that a good many of them cannot speak its native tongue.  Factors ranging from the amount of time that workers have available to devote to language learning to the actual difficulty involved in acquiring a new tongue often hinder workers’ ability to communicate clearly with the natives.  I have to give credit to those of who are at least willing to try to learn English and cannot speak poorly of the Hispanic gentleman whom I found myself assisting on this particularly hot summer afternoon.

“Young man, can you help me?”  he enquired, approaching me as I stood stocking a shelf.

At first I was rather taken aback, recalling the blind man who had at one time made the same nearly impossible mistake.  A quick glance was enough to tell me that this gentleman was far from blind and that this error must stem from some other source.

I listened carefully as he awkwardly explained what he needed and I proceeded to assist him to the best of my abilities.  It wasn’t until later that it struck me that perhaps the reason for the odd manner in which he addressed me was due to an error on the part of his language instructor.  Was it possible that someone had informed him that any young person ought to be referred to as “young man?”

My customer very well may have been attempting to be polite, acting upon the advice of a trusted advisor, but the form of address he used was incorrect.  In the same manner, it is easy for us as Christians to rely upon others’ understanding of Scripture rather than our own. In doing so, we sometimes find ourselves acting upon misinformation.

Not everyone who teaches within the Church does so with a clear or full understanding of God’s Word.  It is for this reason that Paul taught individual believers to diligently study the Scripture for themselves.  Not only does this practice enable us to ensure that the doctrine which we are applying in our own lives is sound, but also ensure that the doctrine which we are sharing with others is correct and accurate.

Challenge: This week, pay careful attention to the Scripture passages from the Sunday Sermon, your weekly Bible study, and your daily devotions.  Then, apply the 20/20 rule, reading at least the 20 verses preceding the passage and the 20 verses following it.  You may be surprised at what proper context has to teach you!

Potable Drinking Water

6 Mar

Read: Matthew 25:14-30

“And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.  And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground.  See, you have what is yours.’  But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave… you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.” – Matthew 25:24-26a, 27b NASB

 

I loathe the misuse of the English language.  I’m not talking about the ordinary misuse which takes place during every day dialogue (that’s to be expected), but the type of misuse which takes place in professional media.

For example, you would think that when someone was advertising a product, they would take the time to make certain that the name of the product was spelled correctly.   Management (at least, most management) should be wise enough to recognize that allowing simple errors in spelling to be posted on a billboard reflects poorly on the establishment.

Likewise, I have a beef with those who try to give their outfit a high class appearance by using words which are redundant, exceed the limits of the average vocabulary, or both.  With this in mind, I was less than pleased when I walked into the pet department one afternoon and saw a sign above our rain barrels reading: Safe for Potable Drinking Water.  Since “potable” means “drinkable”, the sign might as well have read: Safe for Drinkable Drinking Water.  I explained this to management and even went through the effort of proving it with my trusty dictionary, but to no avail.  Despite knowing that their word usage was incorrect, management had no intention of changing the sign.  Every time I walked past, I couldn’t help thinking about how foolish we looked!

Unfortunately, many times we as Christians behave quite similarly.  God’s Word is available to us and we know that what we are doing isn’t right.  But it would require effort on our part to correct our behavior, so we just leave it hanging there: an obvious testimony to our own foolishness.

Perhaps this is why Jesus spent so much time emphasizing the need to do our best with everything God has placed in our charge – no matter how little it may seem.  Only when we truly seek to honor God by giving Him the best we have can we expect to reap a reward!

Challenge: Are you doing your best with what God has given you or are you letting the little things slide?  This week, commit to taking the time to do your best with every task set before you.  You can be assured that God will be pleased with your efforts!

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