I used to pahk the cah. A Yankee transplant, I tawked funny. Plucked from the rocky shores of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island and plunked into the sand hills of Columbia, South Carolina, every time I opened my mouth, people knew I was “not from around here.” There was no doubt about it.
In church last week, a soft-spoken woman with a gentle smile shared a prayer request, and I knew she wasn’t from around here either. Her speech was lyrical and delightfully different. I found out later she had moved here from Europe as an army bride.
My daughter recently took a dialect test. Using a series of questions, it pinpointed which region of the country her speech most resembled. Despite the fact that she’s lived in the south all her life, her dialect strongly reflected the language of New Englanders. This fact comes as no surprise since she’s been surrounded by “Yankees” all her life.
Whether we’ve lived in the same town or moved 20 times, our speech should tell people that we’re not from around here—that this world is not our home.
Peter and John were good examples of this principle. Although they were hometown boys, religious leaders immediately detected something different in their speech. It had little to do with how they spoke and everything to do with what they said.
“Salvation is found in no one else,” Peter proclaimed, “for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Peter and John had nothing within themselves to draw people to Christ. No seminary degree. No charisma or polish.
No eloquence or advanced speaker training. But people knew where they’d been and who had been their primary influence.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus (v. 13).
I’ve noticed on days when I take time to be with Jesus, my speech is more likely to reflect his nature. Although not foolproof, filling my mind and heart with his thoughts through Bible reading and prayer better enables me to speak words that are kind, true, edifying, and full of grace.
In Matthew 12:35 Jesus said, The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him.
Being with Jesus is the best way to fill my heart with good things. Then, when my heart overflows, what splashes out blesses others. Can people tell from our speech that we’ve been with Jesus? If not, perhaps we need to spend a little more time with him.
Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Join the conversation by adding your comments below!
How is your talk revealing who you are?
by Lori Hatcher
Lori is an author, blogger, and women’s ministry speaker. She shares an empty nest in Columbia, South Carolina, with her ministry and marriage partner, David, and best dog ever, Winston. She’s the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine, and has authored two devotional books. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook (Hungry for God), Twitter (@lorihatcher2) or by email (LoriAHatcher@gmail.com).