“Language is a dynamic system of arbitrary symbols to communicate.”
At least that is all that I can remember from the definition we memorized back in college. As you can see, I couldn’t memorize it anymore. I know for sure that there are a lot of words added to that definition. I also recall for sure that the word “dynamic” was one of the key words to get full marks when we had an exam.
“Dynamic” means a process marked by constant change or progress. Language is pretty much like that. It changes through time. Certain words may lose its use or change its meaning depending on the day and age. In fact, for all we know, the words that we frequently use have a very different meaning in the distant past.
Here are some examples from the book “unfortunate English” by Bill Brohaugh:
Prestigious – This word is now used to mean something that has a high status or great esteem like if you belong in the highest ranked school or class in your country. However, back in the day, prestige actually means an illusion or a trick. The word came from magicians, jugglers, and tricksters to mean “to blindfold the eyes.”
Awful and Awesome – This is actually funny. We use awful to refer to something that is really bad like an awful performance or awful food. On the other hand, awesome is a word we use to refer to something that is totally great, or something that is worth seeing or watching. However, both words have similar origins and meanings. “Awe” actually means “fearful reverence” to someone or something. Most often, the word is used in Christian circles to pertain to God. Awful originally meant “full of awe” while “awesome” originally meant “somewhat filled with awe.” However the meaning changed along the way somewhere in the 1600s.
Fun – We all love to have fun. We like to play around and enjoy our lives. We have associated fun with feel good activities like doing sports, playing computer games, and even just chilling with friends is considered fun. However, “fun” in its original form in the 1400s meant an instance of deception, cheat or swindle. Hence we have the term “make fun of.” So think about the next time you try to have fun.
Pretty – Any guy will never call another girl pretty again after this. The way we use pretty is to describe a woman’s looks or attire. The original word’s obsolete meaning is far from a compliment. Pretty used to mean “artful, crafty or cunning” and was used to pertain to guys. So who’s pretty now?
Now before you think of omitting these words from your everyday use, you have to remember that the negative meanings are obsolete. The meanings of these words today are the ones that really matter. Language has taken its course and the former meanings of these words could not be used anymore. However, it really is funny to note that the words we use on a daily basis had a different meaning in the past. It’s is more funny to note that the meanings are ironic.
This same principle could also be seen in our spiritual lives. There are terms and words that when seen in light of God’s love and care for us, seem to change meaning. There are negative-sounding words that when translated using Christ’s sacrifice for us, transforms into positives.
Consider the following:
- A loss is a win
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage,that I may gain Christ”
Philippians 3:7-8 NIV
Forget about your laude honor or your failure to obtain one. Forget about your botched aspirations to become a super athlete or a multibillionaire. In Bible terms, everything is a loss because Christ is the only gain you can have. You may lose in the aspects of fame, fortune and fashion but you are a winner when you choose Christ in your life.
- Sharing is gaining
“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV
We often think that once we part ways with our possessions we lose something. We often think that when we share some of our food, or clothes or anything that we have, we lose our possessions. The reality is the more you share and give to others who are in need, the more blessings you will get in return. You may not get the same exact thing that you gave away, sometimes a close friendship, and a reputation as a person of God is enough.
- Death is life.
“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.”
Romans 6:6-8 NLT
Death is not as scary in the Bible as we thought. Christ bids us to die to ourselves and allow Him to take the wheel of our life. Not only that, Christ tells us to die on a daily basis. Our desires, our plans and our will are only full of selfishness and sin but when submitted to our greatest lover, it transforms us to become a different kind of person.
We may think that losses, defeats and death are things that stop us. The reality is that when viewed with a total surrender to Jesus, the defeats, deaths and fears fade out to give way to hope in Christ Jesus. That’s the biggest and most amazing irony of all.
Let Jesus Christ into your life right now and change the meaning of the negative words in your vocabulary. Let Christ into your life right now and discover the real meaning of love.