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Sunday, 13 June 2010

Language - is it really important?

One of yesterday's news items was to the effect that after just one week of monitoring, it had been established that the use of serious expletives (foul language) in television programmes, had increased by more than 18%. The Telegraph newspaper reported that "Mediawatch, the pressure group, said that while they [broadcasters] had 'made all the right noises, they haven't actually done anything'."

A few days earlier, a regular e-mail that I receive contained an article in which I was informed that meditation reduces stress, improves memory, and lowers blood pressure. All well and good! However, the only guidance given was to "... sit with your eyes partially closed and focus on breathing slowly and deeply, in through your nose, out through your mouth. Repeating a word (“om” or "one" are easy) helps relax your mind. No secret mantra needed."

So, what's the connection? In a word - language! ( I suppose that there's a sort of pun in there!). To put it another way, it's all to do with what comes out of our mouths!

The Bible has much to say about the tongue, and the power that it wields. In what is probably the oldest book in the Old Testament, we find references to "the scourge of the tongue" (5:21); injustice on my tongue" (6:30); and the ability of the tongue to "utter deceit" (27:4). The enemies of the Psalmist-king David, have tongues "filled with flattery" (Ps.5:9), while "a lying tongue" is hated by YHWH (Prov.6:17).

In the New Testament, James has much to say about the tongue. "If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless." (1:26) . "... the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself." (3:6). "People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!" (3:7-10).

So what we say is important! Jesus made that clear: "... whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you." (Matt 12:34-37)

It is sad that, using the English language - that is so rich in both adjectives and adverbs - so many have to describe almost everything about which they speak with just one word, beginning with the letter 'f'!

As far as meditation is concerned, it is indeed a useful practice. However, since it involves a deliberate focussing of the mind on a specific object, to the exclusion of all else, the object chosen is of paramount importance. I would suggest that anyone who does wish to meditate should do so using the Name that is above every name, the Name of Jesus, as their point of focus. And not just reciting even that Name over and over again but, remembering that the name is an insight to the character, reflecting on His love; His goodness; His grace; His mercy, His sacrifice at Calvary; His redeeming power; His coming again. His is, as the hymnwriter put it, the sweetest name I know. Take an extra couple of minutes to listen to the lovely song written over 200 years ago by John Newton: "How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear." May all who read this post, know that sweetness for themselves.

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