1 ¶ In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. ~ John 1:1 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash
When Spencer and Seth were in middle school (and beyond) they were always either: 1) Talking junk. 2) Talking trash or 3) Talking smack. I used to tell them I felt honored to have sons who were fluent in three languages. Even though my sons are grown now, I still see my 11th grade students spending their copious free time conversing in these three dialects. I think it’s just what teenage boys do.
Well, one day last week during English III, some of the young men in my class were bantering back and forth a bit. In the process, one of them used a word that falls somewhere between PG and PG-13. It wasn’t vulgar enough to peel paint, but it’s not something you’d find in your Sunday school lesson either. I advised them that they might want to tone it down a bit.
“Oh, Dr. Cash!” they exclaimed. “You hear that word everywhere now. It’s not really that bad. And, besides…it’s just a word.”
Well, I guess this is just a sore subject with me. I assured them that in the world in which we live, there is no such thing as “just a word.” People often quote the little poem, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I told them that this is a bombastic lie from the pit of hell; that the poem should read, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may break someone’s heart and destroy a life.”
The seemed unmoved.
So, I navigated my argument in another direction, this time from the Holy Scriptures. I told them that words are crucially important. They matter because God is a word.
My students looked at me as if I had uttered the most obvious thing in the universe. “Of course ‘God’ is a word, Dr. Cash. ‘God’ is a noun. A proper noun.”
I told them that this was not what I was talking about at all. What I meant to say was that God said (in the Bible) that He Himself is the Word. God calls Jesus Christ “The Word.” “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”
That’s why we have to be careful with words. Words are powerful. Words make a difference. Words matter. We all need to be careful with what we say and how we say it.
The 11th grade boys seemed to get it this time. They said that this was right. They went back to working their worksheets.
(Then I heard one boy whisper to his friend: “We need to be careful not to get him stirred up. He’s a preacher.” 😊)
From our house, to yours… keep your words sweet this week.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 34 ½ years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He’s currently on a sabbatical from the preaching ministry, and is an English teacher at the Choctaw Tribal School. He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in a brick house in town (where the Cash’s dear friend took them to see Lyle Lovett this week.) You can send him a note at email@example.com.