“A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior” is how communication is defined according to Merriam-Webster[i]’s dictionary.
In today’s world, this word involves a lot of things. We might communicate with our parents or children every morning when we get ready to leave our homes and share breakfast. We might communicate through emails to our coworkers on important details from the last meeting. We might communicate with a relative or friend in a foreign country through a video or audio call. We might communicate to others how we feel by something we write on our Facebook or other social media accounts. And, certainly, we might communicate the good news of our Savior to anyone we can by talking, writing, using signs, but more importantly, by our actions and attitudes.
It is interesting how the Bible tells us, in the first book, how languages came into existence. Moses wrote,
“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:1-9).
The Hebrew word Babel simply means confusion, and that is exactly what occurred at that time. Imagine for a moment that you are the only English speaking person in a place where everyone is speaking Chinese or another foreign language. There might be some terms or words you may catch, but it is, without a doubt, a moment of total confusion. I remember when I was with my good friend and brother, Ronnie Gootam, and he started to speak in Telugu with his wife. This language involves Hindi, English and Bengali words, so, there were some words I was able to understand, but, there were sometimes when those who were in the same place started to tell him, “Hey, English, speak English.” I had the same experience when, at moments, my wife and I started to speak in Spanish and some brethren started to tell us the same words.
In today’s world, people keep suggesting that we are “evolving” instead of realizing that what we are really doing is “adapting”. In our case, as well as many in our Hispanic countries, we learn the English language in order to have better opportunities in our work environments. That is not evolution, our children do not inherit that language based on our previous efforts, they learn it because they hear it more often than what we did when we were their age.
During a recent campaign, we were sitting at a restaurant’s table and the TV was on. I did not pay attention to the news, but there was an American sister, her Spanish language was basic, but, she knew American Sign Language (ASL). The TV channel offered that service, as many others, in a corner of the screen. She was so focused on seeing the lady that did the signs, that she started to tell me the news based on what she gets from the signs, and she got them right. This was a moment when three different ways of communication were all together. A Spanish news program was seen by an English-speaking lady who understood everything through the sign language. A clear example of the beauty of communication was there in front of my eyes.
The evil and selfish thoughts of mankind at a moment of history caused that God introduced the languages as a way of confusion to those who were doing those evil things, and it works. They stopped that work and move with others who speak and understand what they were saying.
What was a curse at that time, is a blessing for us today. I am sure that there might be some today that knows Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and other old languages, but, it has been through the dedicated works performed to bring sound translations of the Bible that every single soul in this world have the opportunity to read and listen to the good news of glad tidings that our heavenly Father has provided to all of us.
Who would know the meanings of “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” or “Talitha cumi” without translators and interpreters? The meanings can be found in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 5:41, respectively.
What we say is important!
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).
A Christian must be known for the way he walks, talks, and acts. It is not uncommon to see how someone refer to us when we do something wrong and reacts, “and he/she is supposed to be a Christian!” We cannot let the devil win that way. As the words of the apostle Paul, our ways to communicate must be used to edify, to encourage, and to help.
It is interesting that the same word translated as “communication” in the previous passage is the same Greek word used by John to describe who came from heaven in John 1:1-3, 14. John used that word to denote “the essential Word of God, Jesus Christ, the personal wisdom and power in union with God, his minister in creation and government of the universe, the cause of all the world’s life both physical and ethical, which for the procurement of man’s salvation put on human nature in the person of Jesus the Messiah, the second person in the Godhead, and shone forth conspicuously from His words and deeds”[ii].
It is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who used the same word, logos, when He said,
“But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Matthew 5:37).
James, half-brother in the flesh of our Lord, wrote,
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:19-22).
Let us pay attention to what we hear, and then, think twice before talk. Let us be sure that what we say (and do) is according to what God instructed us to do through His Word. Our words must be sincere, and seeking always to glorify God in everything we do. Let us show to the wicked world what the beauty of the communication is!
It has been said many times that “we are the only Bible some people will get to read.” Our words and actions have a lot to do with bringing the opportunity of salvation to many that are lost. They need to see Jesus in us, but if we hide him by the way we live our lives, then, they will not be able to find him, and we will be guilty of not doing the work that He commanded us to do.
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
Dear reader, no matter if you speak English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Telugu, or any other of the hundreds of languages that exist today, be sure to use your ways of communication to preach and teach the great hope of salvation that we have in Christ Jesus.
Let us be thankful to our heavenly Father for the blessing of having His Word translated into every language that exists on this planet, and for the opportunity that we all have to listen to His message and learn what we must do in order to be saved.
Let us do our part, as the Great Commission was given, to go and teach all nations (Matthew 28:19), by knowing that, while there are hundreds of languages, the message is One:
“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ [emphasis added]” (Ephesians 4:3-7).
God bless you!
[i] “communication”, Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/communication
[ii] “logos”, Thayer and Smith. “Greek Lexicon entry for Logos”. “The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon”, http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/kjv/logos.html