The Hobbit and the Precision of Words

“Good morning!” said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green.

But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out farther than the brim of his shady hat.

What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”

“All of them at once,” said Bilbo.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you were using the same words, but not talking about the same thing? Or maybe you say something and you know exactly what you mean by it, such as “good morning”, yet the other person has no idea what you mean by it, or a bunch of different ideas as to what it could mean. Sometimes this vagueness can be useful, but most of the time it is not.

In teaching I’ve found out exactly how precise one must be with words. Yet in this learning process I’ve also found out how beautiful words can be.

I can be teaching on salvation by “faith” alone. I have to be careful to fully explain what I mean by faith, as well as what I mean by salvation. There is so much meaning in these words that we take for granted so often and many times skip over what they mean because we assume that people already know. Well the fact is, not everyone knows.

Not only do I have to explain to the best of my ability what I mean by each word, but I have to be careful in how I phrase each sentence. This can be extremely powerful and precise, or it can be vague. For instance,

“God loves everyone.” I could simply mean that God, who is the ruler of the universe, loves, by which I mean that He deeply cares for, everyone, all people who were existed, exist, or will exist.

Yet, there are numerous other meanings. For instance are we talking about the God of Christianity (probably assumed in this context), or of some other religion? By love are we talking merely emotional? Or is it physical as well? Is part of God’s love His justice and wrath? Or is that something else? By everyone do I mean really everyone? Or just those whom He already loves(ed)?

That was of course a simple example but I hope it proves what I am trying to say. We have to be extremely careful in what we say.

Thankfully for us, the same is true about God’s Word. He did not inspire any Words that are not useful. Every Word that is written is given to us for a purpose. I love to study God’s Word as a whole, putting the pieces together to understand the big picture of who God is, what He has done, and what He will do. But I also love to dissect each and every word to its fullest extent so that I can get a better understanding of all that God is, and what He has done.

Too often we seek to read the bible, study the bible, and even teach the bible with the thought that it is about “me/us”. It’s not. I hate to break it to you, but God’s Word is about Him. Every Word has been recorded for our benefit to know Him better. Through that we will learn more about ourselves, and how we can serve Him.

There is great precision in Words. There is even greater precision in God’s Word.

With that, I say, “Good Day”.

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About thatimaybegraftedin

I try and live as one who takes the Bible literally. With that said I believe Christ will come back one day soon and I don't want to be doing anything He wouldn't want me to do...
This entry was posted in Musings from a Young Pastor. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Hobbit and the Precision of Words

  1. Cody Jenison says:

    Dissecting the Word is a completely worthy ambition!

    Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15

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