If Words are Valuable, How Do You Spend Them?
I love W-O-R-D-S… But I detest foul language… Just saying.
Not only do I love words and their usage, but also their history and intended (or original) use. Today, thinking back, I wonder if I could have made a living being an etymologist? You know, someone who studies the origin, history and meaning of words?
Etymology: the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history.
Regardless of the word, there are some that are better known and not spoken than using them in your continual communication. And I am sure you know what I mean! Having the right word, at the right time, means much. The right/wrong word, at the wrong time, can do much damage… Knowing what to say, and when, is truly important!
A wise man from scripture put it like this:
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. (Proverbs 25:11, KJV)
Consider “fitly” – Matthew Henry commentary defines this English word from the Hebrew Language as:
To speak pertinently: A word upon the wheels, that runs well, is well-circumstanced, in proper time and place
Whether speaking to your child when correction is needed, or gently reminding an adult of a better way to handle a situation, this proverb gives me pause to think about how I address an issue with those around me. Using the correct word will be like a well oiled wheel that turns true and does not squeak with alternate meaning or application.
We have all struggled with this, at some time in the past, and probably realize how much better we could be in the future. Consider the image of “apples of gold in pictures of silver” to mean a the nourishing word presented as a pleasant to the ears as the image of something gold resting in a server of silver.
“I can live for a week off one good compliment.” ~Mark Twain
Again, the right word, properly spoken, and provide a great nourishing consideration to those that hear… When communicating with others, the Apostle Paul gives us a foundation that we should really consider.
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Ephesians 4:15, KJV)
Too often we speak the truth harshly, and even though it might be truthful, there are often better ways to say the same thing. You have heard the old adage, “If you cannot find something good to say, then say nothing” and it is probably appropriate in way too many situations. But many yearn to be complimented, they need that “pat on the back”, “job well done”… They need some affirmation. But this cannot always be the way we do things. Sometimes we need to “speak the truth in love…”
If you cannot speak the truth in love, then find something good to say! Surely that’s more easily done if we only try… “That’s nice…”
Nice… Now that’s a word we often misuse, and do not properly understand.
A conversation in church the other day brought this little nugget to the surface. What does “nice” mean? When I look at some dictionaries they give you the more common and modern meaning…
- pleasant: pleasant or enjoyable
- kind: kind, or showing courtesy, friendliness, or consideration
- respectable: respectable, or of an acceptable social or moral standard
However, dig back a little further and some dictionaries show that the word once meant something totally different… In fact, some dictionaries identify these meanings as obsolete…
- obsolete a : wanton, dissolute b : coy, reticent
- a : showing fastidious or finicky tastes : particular <too nice a palate to enjoy junk food> b : exacting in requirements or standards : punctilious <a nice code of honor>
- : possessing, marked by, or demanding great or excessive precision and delicacy <nice measurements>
- obsolete : trivial
Words, then, can mean something totally different from one time period to the next, one generation to the next… Taken even further into the original language and country that it came from and we would find something even totally different than either sets of meaning above.
This got me to thinking about how another persons perspective and usage of a particular word can take your usage and turn it around to mean something else. I am not talking about calling something “bad” and actually mean it’s “good” – no, I’m talking about a personal understanding of a word.
Also, the way a word is spoken implies meaning – you may use a word like “nice” and make it sound sarcastic or mean and really want the hearer to understand you mean the total opposite.
Words are spoken vessels of our thoughts. These thoughts produce results.
- “Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
- Watch your words, for they become actions.
- Watch your actions, for they become habits.
- Watch your habits, for they become character.
- Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Want to investigate this quote on your own? Look this up at: (Click here)
So. Understanding the word. Using the “fitly” spoken word. Let it be spoken as “truth in love”. And finally, your tonal quality of speech will say a lot about what you truly mean!