“Sick!” she squealed as I spread face mask on her perfect seven-year old skin.
“Ohh, do you feel ill?” I teased.
“Cool? Do you need a sweatshirt?” Now we were both laughing.
I dare some of the older children in my life to eliminate the word “like” just to see if they can still make a sentence. It’s comical to watch them struggle. It’s their culture (or lack of it).
An idiom is a word combination which has a different meaning than the literal meaning. We use idiom all the time without realizing it. Think about the pictures we paint with these phrases: raining like cats and dogs, bull in a china shop, dressed to kill, green with envy, laugh your head off, play it by ear.
There are many idiom in the Bible. Jesus was very fond of idioms of overstatement, or hyperbole, used to reinforce a point: ”If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother…” or “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.”
It’s a fascinating study and important for avoiding misunderstandings. Every writing class I’ve taken warns us to avoid idiom. I think as Christians we should speak with honor. It’s just tacky to swear, but phrases like: Holy cow, holy crap, etc. There is nothing “holy” about those things. How about: ‘That sucks’? It’s not befitting of a king’s kid.
When I was a child, it was totally acceptable to say someone was “mentally retarded.” Now, you risk a law suit. For a while “special needs” was acceptable. Gay meant lively, and happy. I understand the need for sensitivity and I certainly don’t want to offend, but it seems to me people are poised for offense these days.
I’m all for talking plain, and eliminating confusion. For example, I frequently use the phrase: quiet time. To another believer it is very plain that I mean that period of time that I set aside to read the word and pray. To the non-believer it could mean taking a nap.
When my son, Kyle, was about three I asked him if he’d like Jesus to come and live in his heart. His eyes when wide. He looked down at his chest and said, “There’s no room.” Of course, a large grown-up can not squeeze into his tiny little heart. I needed to use words that he would be able to grasp.
“Have you found the Lord?” What? Was He lost? It seems more accurate to say, “He found me.”
I recently asked a group of women, “Are you sure your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?” Afterwards it occurred to me: Do they even know what that is? I failed to explain it plainly.
We have to choose our words skillfully, because of concern that we are speaking the Gospel as plainly as possible.
(Guess who Hazel takes after?)
Father, we want to be your witnesses in this generation. Give us plain speech and a powerful anointing so nothing will hinder Your truth from being shared.