“Words … so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary; how potent for good and evil they become, in the hands of one who knows how to combine them!” — Nathaniel Hawthorne, American Notebooks, 1841-1852
Words! Living in a world where words are so carelessly tossed around, we forget their powerful potential for both good and evil. In several posts I have written about “royal words,” a term birthed soon after we moved to England with our children (ages six, four and eleven months.) When our hotel offered a “cot” for our youngest to sleep in (puzzled and slightly horrified that British babies slept on army cots!) I declined the offer. Months passed before I learned that “cot” is their word for “crib” and that there are many other words we commonly use that have different meanings. For instance, I was told that “a yard is where pigs are raised,” people have “gardens.” We had only just moved into our village when Prince Charles and Lady Diana were married. This gave our children a heightened awareness of all things “royal”; evidenced by our four-year old’s aspiration to becoming a princess as her occupation of choice!
As our children grew, one of our goals was to instill respect in their hearts for words important to God. Words like love and hate became “royal words” in our family lexicon to retain the strength of their meaning as they were saved for special use. Therefore, our family loved God and hated evil, but neither “loved” nor “hated” spinach. (We instead “liked” or “didn’t care for” the green stuff.)
As I grew with my kids (I was thirty when I gave my heart to Christ) I became aware of other words and phrases in Scripture that are not necessarily “royal” but none-the-less require special attention because they are mentioned frequently in the Bible. When I learned that the heart is mentioned over 500 times, I started marking every “heart” I discovered with a little red heart drawn over it. I later noticed admonitions throughout the Bible to, “remember” and “do not forget” God and His faithfulness to us. (I draw a red cloud around “remember” or “do not forget” when I encounter them in my Bible.) I mark such words (and several others) because I want them to stand out on the page. What I appreciate about this practice is that it helps me recognize patterns and themes that I might otherwise miss.
When I started working on this post, I intended to write about the importance of remembering God’s faithfulness in our daily lives. (I was not thinking about “royal words” at all.) However, when I decided to find out how many times “remember” is written in the Bible, the course of this entry was totally changed. I found a chart on a site called, christianbiblereference.com* that lists fifteen words mentioned frequently in the Bible and the number of times they appear in the Old and in the New Testaments (in four different translations!) Remember was listed at number ten on their list, mentioned 166 times in the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. (This does not include “do not forget” and other similar references.) What grabbed my attention were the top five words listed, as they reminded me of God’s priorities:
- Lord – mentioned in Old Testament 7,143 times; New Testament 618 times
- God – mentioned in Old Testament 2,725 times; New Testament 1,244 times
- Jesus – not mentioned in Old Testament; New Testament 1,273 times (does not include other references such as Christ, Son of God, etc)
- Heart – mentioned in Old Testament 489; New Testament 81 times
- Love – mentioned in Old Testament 319; New Testament 232 times
Living in a world that throws Lord, God and Jesus around as cheap disposables can often be painful. But this list was not about the surrounding world, it was about me. I was convicted that I too easily speak those names without a whole lot of thought. It was then that I remembered what God established from the beginning: the supremacy of His Name,
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.” Exodus 20:7
As I reflect on the royalty of God’s Names I am grateful for the reminder and determined to take greater care in how I use them. How about you?
All to His Glory!
*Another site I found, ChristianAnswers.Net, has great resources for kids.