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Odds-n-Ends :: The Right Word

By Warren W.Wiersbe

Words are to preachers what nails and tools are to carpenters, oils are to portrait painters and medicines are to physicians. Using the wrong words is like mixing the wrong colors, working with the wrong tools or prescribing the wrong drugs. It could lead to disaster.

Mark Twain put it perfectly: "The difference between any word and the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

We must never assume that what we mean when we use a word is exactly what the people understand. For the 500 most used words in the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary gives 14,070 separate meanings!

The careful preacher uses his dictionary of synonyms and notices the fine distinctions among words. He discovers that "results" are not the same as "consequences" and that being "devout" is not quite the same as being "pious."

Many preachers use a thesaurus in their search for words, especially if they like to alliterate outlines; but the thesaurus will not give you these fine distinctions. Wise is the man who checks his key words carefully.

If you are preaching about worry, for example, check the synonyms and see how they differ. It will help you to be more accurate in your preaching and to have more "tools" available for expressing your thoughts.

Work at building your vocabulary, and in daily conversation strive to express yourself accurately and clearly at all times. Get into the habit of always saying the best things in the best way, and your preaching will improve.

"The preacher sought to find out acceptable words," said Solomon. "The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies" (Eccl. 12:10, 11).

Become a master of words.

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