I don't do New Year's resolutions. Never have. However, looking back at 2019 it seems to me that there are four words that could use a little more use in 2020. I didn’t actually start out to compile a list of words; events of the past year got me thinking that the last word on this list really needs to make a comeback. Then I thought some more and came up with the other three. All four of them can really provide us with a sense of freedom, at least to some degree. I’ve provided definitions from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary at the end of this post. So here they are, the four words I believe we could all stand to use more often in 2020.
Saying “no” can be very liberating. I don’t know about you, but I don’t use this word often enough, and then find myself wishing that I did, especially after saying, “yes,” winds up putting one more item on my already too full plate. As a society in general, and as Christians specifically, we did not said, “no,” nearly enough in 2019 (or over the past 50 years or so). Use of the word “no” is akin to taking a stand, it’s drawing a line and saying “nope, we will not allow or support” a particular behavior or direction. If Christians had said, “no” more often our society might not be in the mess it is as we begin 2020.
I think of myself as fairly self-sufficient. Still, I realize that I’m indebted to countless people for all sorts of things. From my livelihood to emotional and spiritual support I receive from family, friends, co-workers and people I may never meet in this life. Saying, “thanks,” is not only an expression of the gratitude I have but also a reminder that I’m never alone. That knowledge has a liberating effect.
This word works two ways, the asking for and granting of forgiveness. The common wisdom seems to be that we’re quicker to ask for forgiveness than to grant it. But I’m not sure that’s true. Personally, I’m pretty quick to forgive, after all, I know how much God has forgiven me. To ask someone to forgive though, that requires an admission of doing something that requires forgiveness. Both parties are vulnerable in the whole “forgive” transaction. Yet once it’s completed there is real freedom.
You don’t hear the word “sin” very often anymore. I suspect there’s some sort of conspiracy behind that. You see, if nothing is a “sin” then everything is permissible. It’s not “sin,” it’s “an alternate lifestyle.” It’s not “sin,” it’s “freedom of choice.” It’s not “sin,” it’s “separation of church and state.” You get the idea. And if there is no “sin,” if mankind does not exist in a state of “sin,” (see the final definition of “sin” below: “vitiated” means defective or ineffective) then there’s no need for forgiveness, certainly not a need for a relationship with Jesus.
But make no mistake, mankind does exist in a state of “sin” and there are individual acts that constitute sin. Calling it by another name only strengthens sin’s hold. Identifying sin makes forgiveness possible and with that forgiveness comes freedom.
Definitions from Merriam-Webster online dictionary
Used to give a negative answer or reply to a question, request, or offer: in a way that shows a negative response.
1: Kindly or grateful thoughts: Gratitude
2: An expression of gratitude <return thanks before the meal> often used in an utterance containing no verb and serving as a courteous and somewhat informal expression of gratitude <many thanks>
1 a: To give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult>
b: To grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>
2: To cease to feel resentment against (an offender) Pardon <forgive one's enemies>
1 a: An offense against religious or moral law.
b: An action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible <it's a sin to waste food>
c: An often serious shortcoming: Fault
2 a: A transgression of the law of God
b: A vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God
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