For some reason, I have been reminiscing recently with some old songs and artists from my youth: Jim Croce, England Dan and John Ford Coley, Simon & Garfunkel. You may be familiar with them or not–I realize they are ancient.
Those musicians still perform some of my favorites today. Another artist at that time sang “You’re so vain.” This song is by Carly Simon. Though she wasn’t one of the artists I followed back in those days, her songs hit the airwaves big time and You’re So Vain was one tune then that frequented the disc jockeys’ queues.
For me at the time, I wondered what the word vain even meant. Like other words the term has multiple meanings: conceited is one, flippant or trite is another. Today I want to speak about the latter.
Why would this even matter? Believe me, it matters. Robert L Millet describes so well the reason it is important that I have chosen to use his description of the situation:
Recently I sat with my oldest son at a professional baseball game. We were thrilled to see famous players and were excited to watch a well-played athletic contest. One thing, however, clouded the evening for me—the language of some of the fans. After only a half hour or so, the tension of the game and the desire for a win brought forth a stream of profanities from some people behind us.
For the next three hours, we were subjected to crude and coarse language, including constant use of the Lord’s name as a curse or an exclamation. As we returned to our motel, I felt literally beaten down, even defiled. It was a painful experience.
I know you are familiar with this type of scenario. It happens every day in the halls at high school, frequently at the work place, and all over television and mainstream movies. Coarse language and taking the Lord’s name in vain occurs regularly in sporting events and often among those having regular, daily conversations.
Even those that acknowledge and love the Lord frequently find themselves using lesser terms—euphemisms if you will—which have become so common many of us don’t even realize their source. These milder expressions still desecrate the actual references used to acknowledge deity.
So why does this even matter?
Diety deserves our highest respect and acknowledgement. Remember the definition that was mentioned at the beginning of this article? We wouldn’t be flippant or trite or vulgar in his presence. We can’t use these terms without desecrating his name. Happiness is the reward for those that are obedient. God will honor those that honor him.
I like to think of it as in terms of speaking about my mother or father. Some may be inclined to use terms like old man or old lady or something even more deprecating back in my youth, but I would never use those terms to refer to my parents. And I expect it is the same for you. We speak of our parents with respect, because they have so influential in our lives.
Then why wouldn’t it be even more the case that we would speak in reverence and respect for him that is the God of this universe, the Father of our spirits, and the Source of everything that is good and brings us happiness? I think you see my point.
So the next time you think of expressing yourself fervently in a text message or you have something to say with a great deal of force and passion, think about what you are really trying to say. Then say it with confidence and eloquence and respect.
So one more story—as I was on my work today I noticed a home in our neighborhood decked out with balloons and streamers and a big sign across the front of the house welcoming home a missionary. I know with experience something of what those in that family are feeling today and the excitement they have to see their son, who is returning home after two years away in the mission field.
If we feel that kind of excitement for the return of our family member who has been gone two years, think about what our Father in Heaven is feeling for us to have his children return after a lifetime away.
My favorite part of The Prodigal Son video made by the Church is when the father runs to his son when he finally comes home. I think that’s the way it’s going to be when we reach heaven. And someone that loves us that much deserves our reverence and respect today.
We show that kind of adoration by the things we say and the life we live. Commit to making your language and terminology always show love and respect.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life’s challenges is his panacea.