03 Feb Words
We start the day with the Bible, newspaper, TV, radio – all these and more; and all these are words. . . words. . . words. Children tell their parents of their needs and parents ask for their favour, if not command or reprimand and so on. Neighbours chat, at times and quarrel too; friends gossip. All these need words. How can teachers and preachers justify their calling without words? Printing industry and IT would be meaningless without words. We need words. We live by words, next only to the elements like air water and food. Right!?
A fortnight after the appointment of a fresh lecturer, the Principal – as his usual practice – called him to his office for a friendly chat. He wanted to find out how the new appointee found life in the college. He was pleased with the well kept campus, the buildings that embraced the architecture of many lands, the richly stocked Libraries – general and departmental – and the well-equipped laboratories… “But Sir, nobody wishes time,” he remarked. With his characteristic smile the principal suggested, “Say ‘Good morning’ to all you come across in the campus tomorrow,” after another two weeks they met each other in a corridor. “Good morning, sir,” the lecturer greeted. And quick came the response, “Good morning. How are you?” delightfully he replied, “Sir, I am Okay; hope you are doing well.”
It is a matter of words. Wishing time or using proper greetings, in keeping with the custom in the culture, will be a welcome way to Our social life mostly depends on communication through body language and speech; the latter is fully dependant on the fl ow of words, calculated pauses, appropriate change in intonations and use of all other skills of conversation or public speaking. Although there are cultural specialities, additional use of equivalents of “Thank you,” “You are welcome,” “I am sorry,” “Excuse me,” “Never mind,” “How thoughtful of you,”. . . and more in proper context will function as lubricants in our social exchange. The Bible, our Handbook for everyday life provides information and instructions in words that will direct us in the path of victorious Christian life. It is mostly rendered in memorable couplets using the techniques of Hebrew parallelism. It deals with umpteen topics of human interest – not classified and brought under subject titles. We shall consider a few aspects of the impact of words treasured in this book.
Next time when you read this book through in one sitting, you may observe and note down the use of concepts connected with the following terms – NASB is recommended. Consider vocal organs, such as, lips, tongue, mouth as they are closely associated with speech and hearing – linked with words. Then notice the functional words: hear, listen, attention and the allied forms of these words. Attention and command should not be overlooked. Be diligent to note if terms not mentioned herein are hidden in the text. Now let us turn to the impacts of word as painted in some selected couplets in the book of Proverbs. To keep the matter within limits one couplet will be presented with each topic, accompanied by some references for those who relate to others are interested in further study. (Quotations are from NASB.)
Wise and foolish talk: The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly. 15.2; 14.3; 15.7, 16.23; 18.6f; 19.1; 23.15f.
Righteous and the wicked talk: The tongue of the righteous is choice silver. The heart of the wicked is worth little. 10.20f,30,32; 11.11; 12.13f; 13.2; 15.8; 17.4.
Appropriate speech: A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word! 15.23; 16.21,24; 25.11; 27.14.
Maintaining silence: When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise. 10.19; 12.23; 13.3; 17.28, 18.13; 21.23.
Controlled speech: A gentle answer turns away wrath, a harsh word stirs up anger. 15.1; 17.27; 25.15.
Flattery: A lying tongue hates those it crushes, And a flattering mouth works ruin. 26.28; 28.23; 29.3.
Slander and gossip: He who conceals hatred has lying lips, he who spreads slander is a fool. He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, do not associate with a gossip. 10.18; 20.19; 11.13; 16.28; 17.9; 18.8; 26.22; 26.20
Hurtful talk: He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, a man of understanding keeps silent. 11.12; 12.18; 15.4; 16.27; 25.23; 26.2.
Quarreling: The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. 17.14,19; 20.3; 21.10;
Lying: Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment. 12.19,22; 17.20; 19.5,22; 21.6.
Power of tongue: With the fruit of man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied; he will be satisfied with the product of his lips.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. 18.20.
Much more can be learned about the power of word from the Bible, the world literature and from daily human experience. James reminds us, “. . . But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. . . “ (1.19). He writes more elaborately in chapter 3 and here I quote from verse 2, “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” Ability to use language, a special favour from the Creator God, maintains human being at a level different from the rest of creation. Let us use it as responsible children of God and please and glorify the Giver.
About the Author
Prof. P.P. Thomas is member of Kerala EGF. He can be contacted at email@example.com.