There are three or four faults common to otherwise virtuous persons, such as being given to drawing others into endless chatter, and addiction to delicacies.
- The Rule of Ciarán, Irish, 7th or 8th century
[Let there be] neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
- Ephesians 5.4
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
- Colossians 4.6
I have become more impressed lately concerning the power of words. Words can make things happen, as David Browich explains in his book, How Words Make Things Happen. The words we choose, and the ways we use them, can affect the thinking, aspirations, outlook, and lives of the people with whom we converse.
And then there is the wise advice of Elihu (Job 34.3), echoed by Jesus in Mark 4.24, concerning the power of words to move us toward things wise, just, and good, or to guide us in an opposite course. We must be discerning about the words we listen to, and careful about those we use.
Words matter. Words wasted on anything other than communicating truth and grace are just that – wasted words, wasted time, wasted opportunities. We must strive to have our speech be always a channel of grace to the world, bringing words of substance and grace to others.
The Seinfeld Show, we recall, advertised itself as a “show about nothing.” It had no real plot, but simply careened through one situation to the next, going nowhere and offering nothing but comic relief.
This was part of the genius of Jerry Seinfeld. He understood that people don’t want to think; they want to laugh. And if he could get them to laugh about everyday, mundane issues and things, then he could lighten their load without their having to deal with anything at a level deeper than mere entertainment.
This show was popular because it reached an entire generation’s itch at precisely the point it likes to be scratched – entertainment, not thinking. The Seinfeld Show offered nothing of significance, and when it dealt with matters that might be important, it did so in a trivial and flippant manner. Everything – even serious issues of relationships and life – could be easily endured, dismissed, and forgotten after a few laughs.
Neil Postman wrote about our generation that we are “amusing ourselves to death” by our addiction to television, so that we can’t carry on an intelligent conversation for more than a few moments. Television is a delicacy, not a staple, because it feels good going down, but adds little to overall health, and thus could be easily set aside. Certain critics are warning that the situation Postman described is beoming worse in the Internet age, where what seems to matter most is that satisfaction of each person’s narcissistic urge and desire to be clever or famous – if only for 2-3 minutes. If TV is a delicacy to be indulged sparingly, the Internet is even more so.
Many people don’t want to listen to or talk about serious matters; they just want to be entertained. Or to be the center of attention. And, alas, many of those people are our fellow believers in Christ.
We who have been redeemed and commissioned to bear the Word of Life must not be content to offer merely superficial, entertaining, and insubstantial words to the people in our Personal Mission Field. We are citizens and ambassadors of an eternal Kingdom! Do we not have more significant, meaningful, urgent, and beautiful words to convey than the drivel and trivia that so often fill casual conversation?
We can hardly expect people to take us seriously, when we want to talk about eternal things, if a large portion of the rest of our speech is nothing more than words about nothing. God has entrusted His truth to earthen vessels – you and me! He does not want that truth to be hidden away or diluted by the narcissism and banality of the age. We must work hard to receive the truth of God daily, so that we might live and proclaim it at every opportunity; because we recognize that life is not about nothing, but about Christ and His glory and His filling-all-things-in-all-things agenda.
We have the Word of Life living in us. His Word is filled with substantial words of grace and truth that can really make things happen. Let us devote our hearing to as much of that Word as we can, and our speech to representing, celebrating, explicating, and exemplifying that Word in all our conversations with others.
1. Think ahead to the opportunities you’ll have for conversation today, and begin thanking the Lord for each one as you prepare to minister His grace and truth by your words.
2. What did you learn from today’s Crosfigell to encourage a fellow believer?
Psalm 117 (Lauda Anima: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven)
Praise the Lord! All nations, praise Him!
Magnify Him, peoples all!
He is great, His steadfast love keeps
All who on His favor call!
Evermore His faithfulness will bless
His people, great and small!
Lord, I have only one tongue: Teach me to use it to relate Your wonders and love as I…
Working at conversation
We can all improve in the use of our words, that we might be channels of God’s grace to the people in our Personal Mission Field. Download the free ReVision study, “Seasoned with Grace,” and begin working on your conversational skills today (click here). Enlist a friend to join you in this study, and encourage and assist one another to make the most of your opportunities to talk about the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you find Crosfigell a helpful resource? Share it with others! At the bottom of today’s edition are instructions for how you can have a copy of Crosfigell sent to your friends. Don’t just forward Crosfigell, for if your friend unsubscribes, it will be your subscription that is cancelled.
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T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Ó Maidín, p. 45.