I recently found an old illustration that drives home the point that we must be precise with our words. And it made me laugh out loud.
The article said, “A young monk arrives at the monastery. He is assigned to helping the other monks in copying the old canons and laws of the church by hand. He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript. So, the new monk goes to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.
The head monk says, ‘We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son.” So he goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts are held as archives in a locked vault that hasn’t been opened for hundreds of years.
Hours go by and nobody see the old abbot. So, the young monk gets worried and goes down to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall and wailing. ‘We missed the “R”, we missed the “R”‘. His forehead is all bloody and bruised and he is crying uncontrollably.
The young monk asks the abbot, ‘What’s wrong father?’ With a choking voice, the old abbot replies, ‘The word was CELEBRATE.”
Obviously, precision was called for in this story. But it is also called for in our daily lives. We live in a world that demands clarity. We have significant time constraints and are compelled to “tell it like it is,” clearly, thoughtfully and with compassion.
The Bible weighs in on this topic. In Matthew 5:37 in the context of dealing with “oaths,” Jesus admonished his believers to be clear. “All you need to say is simply, ‘yes’ or ‘no’, anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
This week, you and I should be extra conscious of what we say and how we say it. Precision is called for. Lets avoid the hyperbole, keep illustrations to confines of the real story and say what is on our mind, but with grace (Col. 4:6).
And, watch out for the “R”s!
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel