I repeat: Don’t garble the message!
We’ve been talking about how easy it is to take one thing and transform it into another as it leaves our lips. Exaggerate this detail or rearrange that fact and you’ve got a recipe that’ll make more mouths water than hot fudge on a rainy night. Don’t be too careful with numbers, omit a few specifics, leave room for a subtle innuendo or two, and for sure, add some color to make the things more interesting. Then, when you sense the listener is sufficiently misinformed, don’t bother to correct the mistake. Stay quiet. Calm yourself with the thought that nothing more (?) will be said to anyone else. I mean, you didn’t rob a bank or something. You just forgot to mention a couple of tiny tidbits that don’t make that much difference, right? How in the world could that hurt? Why be such a stickler? Well, let me ask you a few related questions.
- How accurate do you expect your physician to be when he talks about what he found during surgery? Do words matter that much?
- How about that contract? Are you going to bother with stuff like terms and implications and amounts of money and percentages?
- Do you feel comfortable with a car or insurance salesperson who tells you one thing today and a slightly different comment day after tomorrow?
- Ever dated a guy who had a little problem telling the same story the same way each time? Did the thought of marrying him make you a little nervous?
- What about a minister or counselor who told you not to worry about exactly what the Bible says? What if he didn’t seem to think that each one of those “Thus saith the Lord” statements was very important?
Speaking of which, God’s style of communication doesn’t seem to leave much margin for generalities. He told more than one prophet to say it painfully straight and make it obviously clear. He gave Moses precisely ten commandments, not “a dozen or so.” He told Jonah to go directly to Nineveh, not “whichever city seems fair to you, pal.” He mentions His interest in every jot and tittle of His Word, not “just the part that’s easy to read and fun to do.”
The God who expects His children to behave doesn’t leave for the weekend with a note on the door that says, “Whatever turns you on . . . ” The preservation of an inerrant text assumes respectful treatment and accurate communication.
Do you remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians who had begun to scramble the Scriptures with weird and senseless sounds? Drawing upon the analogy of music, he asks:
Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? (1 Corinthians 14:7–8 NIV)
The battle is raging. If ever we needed “a clear call” from the bugler, it is now. Are you responsible for passing on information? Tighten your lips! Hit the right note! Don’t garble that message!
Excerpt taken from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. For additional information and resources visit us at www.insight.org.