Last weekend, I spent time with people from around the country and some from beyond. Given a few minutes with these people you can tell where they are from.
- I heard the southern charm in the voices of my North Carolina friends.
- I could pick out the clear overuse of the word “bro” with my west coast friends. (I suppose I do this too.)
- I was even able to spend time with a friend who lives in Costa Rica but spent some of her childhood in Minnesota. Her speech was a combination of latin rhythm with an occassional “a-boot” tossed in there. Pretty awesome.
- Texans are just loud. We all know this.
It’s amazing how much you know and how quickly you can identify people by the way they talk. With this in mind, I’ve been thinking about Eugene Peterson’s take on this passage:
“Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.”
-Ephesians 5:3–4 (MSG)
I love the idea that Christ-followers have a dialect too. We should be quickly identified by a certain sense of gratitude and thanksgiving in the way we talk. When others listen in on our conversation, it should be a dead giveaway. Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful day to highlight this, but I want this to become part of my every day living. I want others to hear that twinge of thankfulness in my speech. An attitude of thanksgiving breeds joy and injects life back into conversation.
This way of living sits in stark contrast to a culture that encourages the loud, public expression of personal opinions – mostly, negative ones. As Peterson puts it, “we have a better use for language.” In an economy of words, why be wasteful in using language that complains, argues, and belittles?
To be clear, this spirit of gratitude should come from a genuine heart or else we just sound like Ned Flanders – the stereotypical evanglical with a manufactured smile. It is possible to be overly optimistic to the point where it is not honest and clearly contrived.
Bottom line is – we have more reasons to be thankful than we do to complain. For most of us, we have more things than we lack. We can even have nothing, but In Christ have everything.
So, why is this so hard to do?
How do we live and stay in a place of gratitude?