During a medical checkup, a fellow told his doctor that he no longer feels like doing things around the house.
“Now, Doc, I can take it,” the fellow said. “Tell me in plain English what is wrong with me.”
“Well,” the doctor said, “in plain English, you’re just lazy.”
“OK,” the man said, “now give me the medical term, so I can tell my wife.”
Hard-to-understand words certainly aren’t helpful in communicating. That’s why the Bible warns we are to avoid them in sharing the gospel, so that our conversations about the Lord are fully understandable.
“Except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken” (1 Corinthians 14:9).
I’ve heard people talk about conversations with their doctors, lawyers, even repairmen and preachers, saying things like: “That went right over my head,” or: “Those big words were impressive, but I have no idea what they meant.”
When Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, he resisted at first, saying he was a poor communicator.
“Then Moses said to the Lord, ‘Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent … for I am slow of tongue.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? … Is it not I, the Lord? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to say” (Exodus 4:10-12).
People reading this column speak with a wide variety of accents, depending on which part of America’s heartland they live in. Even so, all have been perfectly equipped to share the gospel in a clear and compelling way.
You realize, of course, the Gospels have been written in such a way that everyone can understand them. There are no hard-to-understand words. It’s written simply and clearly. There are no philosophical phrases, no scientific terms, nothing but simple words that even children can understand.
So, don’t feel like you need to learn large theological terms to present the gospel, like the fellow who wanted a large word to confuse his wife about his laziness. Instead, we should put all our efforts into keeping it simple.
Roger Alford offers words of encouragement to residents of America’s heartland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.