[Jan 17]--Calling Things By Their Right Names

Isaiah 5:18-20

Do you know what a euphemism is? I’ve always loved those, haven’t you? We used to call them “garbage collectors.” Now they’re “sanitation engineers.” There’s a whole industry out there called “Political Correctness” that takes unpleasant realities and makes them sound a lot better.

I think that this one verse could solve so many problems in our society. Let’s take politics for a moment. How often have you wished that a person running for office would speak plainly? It’s not “revenue enhancement.” It’s “tax increases.” “Collateral damage” is another way of saying that a military operation has (hopefully accidentally) killed civilians.

It’s pretty often that people use language not to make their meaning clearer, but to obscure it. We can laugh about it at times, but today’s passage shows that the Lord considers callings things by their proper names to be pretty important.

The prophet pronounces God’s judgment (that’s what “woe” means) upon people who call evil good and good evil. Telling people what they needed to hear, that was “bad.” Telling people what they wanted to hear, that was “good.” Can we have some examples that I think are applicable in the modern day?

Let’s take the issue of abortion. Have you ever noticed that the people who advocate the practice (or at least want it legal) never actually mention the word? They use words like “choice” or “reproductive rights,” or "women's health," but rarely (if ever) actually use the term “abortion.” Another word you’ll never hear them use? “Child.” Or “baby.” If they ever have to talk about what's in the mother’s womb, they always refer it as a “fetus.”

Or take it into the realm of religion. If you tell someone that the only way to get into Heaven is by placing your faith in Jesus Christ, that’s being “judgmental,” or “shoving your religion down my throat.” If you tell them that the God who created us also has expectations of us, then you’re not “showing love.”

If you’re a believer and you’re feeling smug right now, don’t be. Christians can be pretty fuzzy on their terms as well. Here’s my favorite one: Using the term “mistake.” I'm sure you've heard it (or said it): “We all make mistakes.” My friend, if you accidentally substitute a “9” for a “6” in adding up expenses on a spreadsheet, that’s a mistake. If you plan to pick up milk in the grocery store and forget to do so, that's a mistake. If you lie to someone, that’s not a “mistake.” The Bible has several words for it: “rebellion,” “transgression,” “iniquity,” but the most common one is “sin.” It’s not a mistake. It’s not an error. It’s sin. Literally it’s “missing the mark,” like aiming an arrow at a target and missing it. God has a standard (which is perfection), and you missed it.

Jesus did not die for my mistakes. He did not bleed because of my innocent errors. He died because of my nasty, rotten, stinking, filthy sin. I need to call it what it is.

But I don’t want to end on a negative note. Jesus doesn't forgive mistakes. He forgives sins. He knows all about all the nasty things I’ve thought and done, and he forgives it all for the asking. But just like with Alcoholics Anonymous, you can’t do anything unless and until you admit you have a problem. And it all starts when you call things by their proper names.

Lord Jesus, please point out any areas of my life that are harboring rebellion. Help me to call it what it is, and accept your total cleansing. Thank you.

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