Know Your Bible

VOL. 8                           July 19, 2009                           NO. 26

 

                            The Bible's Influence On Our Language

 

     The Bible has influenced the English language in untold ways. Although we may not realize it, many of the common phrases we use to express ourselves are rooted in Scripture. Here are some well known sayings that actually come from the Bible:

 

* The skin of my teeth. Job said, "My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh, And I have escaped by the skin of my teeth" (Job 19:20).

 

* A drop in the bucket. "Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales..." (Isaiah 40:15).

 

* The root of the matter (or problem). "But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?" (Job 19:28)

 

* Living off "the fat of the land." "And take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you will eat the fat of the land" (Genesis 45:18).

 

* At their wits' end. "They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end" (Psalms 107:27).

 

* All things to all men. The apostle Paul said, "To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made All things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22).

 

     The Bible's influence on mankind has been so pervasive that most people commonly quote phrases from it without realizing it! If the speech of people of the world has been slightly influenced by the Bible, the speech of God's children should be greatly influenced by it. Christians, who are to be constantly studying God's word and striving to live by it, will naturally demonstrate it in speech.

 

* We will speak "the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).

 

* We will speak as the oracles of God, sharing God's word with others. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11).

 

* We will speak with grace, answering spiritual questions with wisdom and solid Bible knowledge. "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one" (Colossians 4:6).

 

* We will utter "sound speech" which promotes spiritual health. "...sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you" (Titus 2:8).

 

* We will not engage in filthy talk or dirty jokes. "...neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks" (Ephesians 5:4).

 

* We will not lie. "Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds" (Colossians 3:9).

 

---Steve Klein

 

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Commercialized Convictions

 
     I am ever amazed at the glaring contrasts of our culture. A truck passed me recently and the vehicle must have been traveling 85 miles per hour. Affixed to the back window was a sticker that read, "My boss is a Jewish Carpenter." I see cars regularly with a little fish emblem attached, which I understand to be a tacit reference to Christianity, yet on the same vehicle will be the decal of a menacing child urinating on the trademark logo of another auto company. There's something blatantly inconsistent here. And perhaps a contributing culprit is our obsession with commercialization. 
 

    We are a people bent upon self-expression. Unlike other cultures in which people tend toward shyness and hesitancy, we are bold, direct, and expressive. While those qualities certainly have some merit, they set us up for some grief too. People from other countries often think Americans brash and arrogant, and part of that reputation is established by our "bumper sticker" mentality. We want the world to know what we think, so we make public declarations of our opinions on our cars, our T-shirts, or on little rubber wristbands. And nowhere is that trend more widespread than in "religion." 
 

    It used to be that almost any silk-screened T-shirt was likely advertising some music concert. Back in "the day" I had a drawer full of concert T-shirts, because we wanted the world to know that we say Jimmy Buffet or Charlie Daniels or the Eagles. Today, however, the logo that looks like a concert shirt at a distance will, upon closer inspection, probably reveal some religious sentiment. And while there are some talented designers fashioning John 3:16 into the shape of a cross or a fish or a landscape, it saddens me that religion has become little more than an expression on a T-shirt or wristband. 
 

    While I don't think its wrong in itself to wear such things, I am concerned about the mentality behind the trend. First of all, I am amazed at the inconsistency often displayed by those so declaring their "faith." A girl wearing a miniskirt and a tight fitting top, while accessorizing such with a "What Would Jesus Do?" wristband is sending mixed messages, is she not? Or a young man who is insolent and foul-mouthed does not seem justified simply because he's wearing a bloody crown of thorns on his shirt. 
 

    Secondly, I have a hard time with the whole commercialization mentality. Imagine the "Sermon on the Mount" scene. Jesus sits on the grass-covered mountainside while throngs of people are gathered, listening to the words of life. And moving carefully through the crowds are the apostles, hawking "This Ain't Your Daddy's Religion" T-shirts? Somehow, I don't see the Lord working that way. In fact, the mindset that makes religious devotion merely a matter of public display is more reminiscent of the Pharisees than of our Lord. After all, it was those religious zealots who wore their religion on their clothes (Matt. 23:5) and gave their alms publicly and selected prominent street corners on which to pray. And they were, according to Jesus, little more than hypocrites, religious without and ungodly within. 

    It seems important to note that the hypocrisy of such commercialized faith is apparent to almost everyone. It's no wonder that "Christianity" is often maligned and disdained by the secularists of our culture. What they see often is little more than moral platitudes and overt symbolism displayed by people who are materialists, sensual, intemperate, and untrustworthy as the general population. After all, that truck going 85 mph with the religious window sticker is blowing by them too. 
 

    Given this environment, it is imperative that loyal disciples of Jesus use our influence properly. The Lord instructs us to be "the light of the world" and "salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:13-16). But doing so involves more than a T-shirt or wristband. It demands that we adhere to the Lord's teaching. Our "doctrine" must be consistent with His, given His command that His disciples "observe all things that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:20). While religious organizations everywhere are catering to the will of the world, we must firmly adhere to the revelation of God's Will (Matt. 7:21ff, Jno. 8:31,32). 
 

    Moreover, proper influence demands that we make an impact for good in this world. Our simple acts of kindness will make a far greater statement about our conviction than will a pithy slogan stuck to our car. Jesus noted that others will glorify God when they "see your good works" (Matt. 5:16). We must take seriously Paul's instruction in Gal. 6:10, "as we have opportunity, let us do good to all..." or his repeated admonitions that we "maintain good works" (Ti. 3:1,8,14). If we are kind and courteous and helpful and caring, there will be less opportunity for inconsistency and little room for criticism form those in this world. 

 

    There aren't enough bumper stickers, T-shirts, or wristbands to atone for the tragedy of hypocrisy. No matter how proudly they are displayed.


---Russ Bowman

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