I heard the story this week about a very modest pastor’s wife who was making arrangement for her and her husband to spend a leisurely week at a campground in Florida.
She wanted to be sure the campground had some of the more important modern amenities, so she called to ask a few questions. But, being so very modest, she couldn’t bring herself to say the world “toilet” in a question to a complete stranger. She did some quick thinking, and considered using the term “bathroom commode.” But, being so very modest, she thought that, too, may be too forward, so she decided to abbreviate “bathroom commode” to “BC.”
So, she asked: “Does the campground have its own BC?”
The abbreviation stumped the campground’s manager, but, considering the question was coming from a pastor’s wife, he assumed “BC” stood for “Baptist Church,” so he told her:
“A BC is located nine miles north of the campground and is capable of seating 150 people at one time. I admit it is quite a distance away, if you are in the habit of going regularly, but no doubt you will be pleased to know that a great number of people take their lunches along and make a day of it. It is a beautiful facility and the acoustics are marvelous. If you do decide to come down to our campground, I’d be happy to go to the BC with you and sit with you.”
Misunderstandings aren’t without consequences. That’s why the Bible encourages us to speak clearly, especially when it comes to matters of eternity. We certainly don’t want to confuse anyone when we’re speaking of something as weighty as salvation.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).
That verse paints a vivid picture. How many people do you know who keep a centerpiece of apples on their dining room tables, or who have a painting of apples in a bowl hanging on the wall? There’s not much prettier than applies in a setting of silver. What God is saying to us in that verse is that our words can be as beautiful as that.
Perhaps you’re familiar with the old hymn: “Wonderful Words of Life,” written in the 1800s by a man named Philip Bliss. The lyrics speak to this very topic.
Sing them over again to me,
Wonderful words of life:
Let me more of their beauty see,
Wonderful words of life;
Words of life and beauty,
Teach me faith and duty:
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
Wonderful words of life.
Bliss, who died as the result of a horrific railway disaster in 1876, had an obvious appreciation for words. Specifically, he had an appreciation for God’s words, from the Bible. You realize that the Bible remains the best-selling book of all time because people are hungry for those beautiful words. It also remains the most quoted book of all time. Often, it’s quoted by people who don’t even realize they’re spouting scripture. In fact, no book in the history of the world had contributed more phrases to the English language than the Bible.
How often have you heard someone say they escaped by “the skin of my teeth?” That’s from Job 19:20. How about “a drop in the bucket?” That’s from Isaiah 40:15,17. You’ve heard people talk about being used as “a scapegoat.” That’s from Leviticus 16:8. And you’ve also heard the saying, “Eat, drink and be merry?” That’s from Luke 12:19.
There are many, many more terms and phrases straight from the Bible that have worked their way into everyday language because they paint vivid word pictures that provide “BC” to the English-speaking world. In this case “BC” stands for “beautiful communications.”