I come from a family of avid readers. Long ago, we discovered that we didn’t need to waste time looking up an unfamiliar word in a dictionary. No siree. We knew it could be figured out by the way it was used in a sentence. Unfortunately, when we’d have occasion to speak this new word, we just assumed we knew its correct pronunciation. Not always. Like the time my brother announced at dinner that he didn’t like a particular acquaintance because his holier-than-thou attitude made him seem “pee-us.” There was a moment of stunned silence before we all jumped in to explain that the word is pronounced, “‘Pie-us,’ David, ‘pie-us’.”
I was in college before I knew that a false appearance wasn’t a “fuh-kade” but a “fuh-sod.” Sometimes I discovered that I preferred my own pronunciation to the correct one. For instance, it was disappointing to find the synonym for complete disorder — chaos — was pronounced “kay-oss” because I thought my version of “chay-ose” sounded more chaotic (if you know what I mean).
By now, you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. I’m talking about tangled speech. The Psalmist says “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word fitly spoken.” Try as I may, my speech inevitably resembles peach pits in tarnished brass.
My verbal offences, while sometimes humorous in retrospect, often give others an untrue impression of me. While I’m quick to apologize when I’m aware of transgressing, I know I don’t catch them all. Therefore, I’m qualified to state that most people do not intend to be insulting. Comments you take as intrusive almost certainly are simply one person’s way of showing interest. This year, give your church members a break and learn to laugh at what appear as roughly spoken, snoopy, or rude comments. Being accepting of others foibles will reap you wholehearted love from those around you. There’s nothing nicer for your people than knowing you’ll accept them graciously, and that they don’t need to measure and examine each word before it is uttered.
[Reprinted by Permission from Brynwood Publishing]