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Sound Words, Honest Talk

Author: Robin D. Fish

Note: Creation Moments exists to provide Biblically sound materials to the Church in the area of Bible and science relationships. This Bible study may be reproduced for group use.

1. There is an element to the creation/evolution controversy which should sound a warning to us. That element is the way that language is used, often to disguise what is meant under a glossy veneer of fine sounding words. It is important to realize that words can be used in a variety of ways. Honesty would compel that words be used consistently, and be clearly defined. While human controversies provide us with examples of double-talk, we need to turn to the Scriptures for examples of utter clarity.

Take, for example, the word, “fool”. We might use the word to indicate a clown, a silly person, one who is demonstrably unwise, or an individual with whom we have a sharp difference of judgment. Scriptures, however, have just one meaning for the word. Look up Psalm 14:1. There are many words used for the concept; one means evil fool, another a boaster, another means self confident, another “empty headed”, thick-headed, thoughtless, unwise, witless, or a rebel. The content of being a fool, however one may define the specific word used, is one who is ignorant of the reality or presence of God.

2. Open to Luke 12:16-21. This is the Parable of the Rich Fool. Here the word literally means “wit-less”. Why is the rich man a fool? Did he deny God? Did he curse God? What did he do (or not do)? He ignored the reality of God. He didn’t account for God. He was unprepared toward God. He did not speak the words of Psalm 14, but he lived them! This is how words are used honestly, when they speak the truth with (of times painful) clarity.

3. Turn to Romans 1:22. Why did men become fools? What indicated the shift from wise to fool? Is there any indication of a gradual slope from wiseman to fool? Notice the criterion of Proverbs 9:10.

Even the “foolish Galatians” were being led away from the truth and from God into legalism and formalism, and so earned the title ” fools”.

4. We have begun to see that straight talk is not always polite, and that honesty always involves a certain amount of judgment. Scriptures can judge unerringly, whereas we must be less certain of our own assessments. Nevertheless, when we use honesty in our speech, we will often be making a judgment. One cannot say a thing is good, without implying that the contrary is evil, or we cannot say that a certain attitude is right and blessed, without suggesting that a contrasting attitude is wrong, or at least less-blessed.

5. Another example is the word “love”. Our language uses the word to indicate pleasure, appreciation, affection, preference, and enjoyment. Make a list of the various ways you might use, or hear, the word “love” used.

6. There are at least eleven words in the Hebrew, and four words (not counting combination forms) in the Greek which we translate as our one word, ” love”. In Scripture, love is not mere affection or just a feeling; love involves the will. One Greek word translated in Mark 12:38 as “love” (some translations, “like”) literally means “to will or wish.” Either you have this love, or you do not. There seems to be little gradation.

7. Look at Jacob and Esau as an example. Genesis 25:34 says Esau despised his birthright. There is nothing to indicate he had any strong feelings about it at all. The word despised simply indicated a lack of love, no caring, no will to preserve.

8. Malachi 1:2-3 and Romans 9:13 report that God loved Jacob, and hated Esau. Now read the description of the meeting of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 32-33. How was Esau blessed? Was there any sign of hatred by God? The hatred was simply the lack of the active choosing of Esau by the Lord. The simple preference toward Jacob, the choice of the will, was the deciding factor in this love.

9. Look at Genesis 29:30-31. What does the word love mean here? How about hate? Simply because Jacob loved Rachel more, Leah is said to be hated (or, in some translations, unloved).

10. Now turn to John 14:21. Jesus defines or describes love here. Is this simple emotion? Is love just obedience? Or is Jesus speaking about a fruit of the will which is active in love? Can you ignore Christ’s commands and still genuinely love Him? Before you answer consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:30 and in Mark 9:40. There is always a yes or a no, a black or a white in honest talk.

11. Many times human confusion comes from the deceptive use of language. What is needed is sound words and honest talk. When God has spoken to us of our forgiveness, we know that He means precisely what He has said, that we have full forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ Jesus. We need not fear the duplicity of the human tongue. God speaks clearly, and He means what He says. It is a lesson we would do well to learn. Let us draw a warning from the creation/evolution debate about how we speak. Perhaps we can use clarity of speech and language as a bridge to understanding as we witness to Christ as our Creator and Redeemer!

Close this study with a prayer for the wisdom and the courage to speak with sound words and honest talk at all times. Don’t forget thanksgiving for His clarity in the Gospel.

Footnotes:
1986 Bible Science Newsletter.

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