“Very true,” said Henry, “and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything. Originally perhaps it was applied only to express neatness, propriety, delicacy, or refinements—people were nice in their dress, in their sentiments, or their choice. But now every commendation on ever subject is comprised in that one word.” ~ Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey

Catherine and Henry’s sister, Eleanor, have made the grave mistake of describing a book that Henry is quite fond of as nice. We read Henry’s response to their choice of description above.

So, what does any of this have to do with faith? At first, I did not know. I simply though the quote amusing. But then, after praying for a glimpse of insight, I got to thinking about how many words or expressions we water down until they no longer hold their meaning….. I love you…. I’ll pray for you…. She’s such a good person….

What does love mean? Especially when we say we love people that we later unfriend on Facebook or delete from our relationship status?

When we say, I’ll pray for you, what does that look like? One momentary pray shot up to heaven to fulfill an obligation (guilty). Or does that mean adding the prayer to a list we pray daily, earnestly seeking God’s guidance and help for someone who has asked us to entreat Him on their behalf?

Who is a good person? What is the definition of good? Have none of us ever sinned, or lied, or hurt someone’s feelings?

I love you…

According to scripture, God is love. His grace, mercy, truthfulness, endurance, all those things are love. Love is not an emotion, it is a commitment. When we say “I love you,” it should not mean, “I really like you right now because you make me happy.” Loving someone is not about them making us happy. It is about caring for them, no matter what, all the days of their lives.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (ESV)

And the greatest love, Jesus says, is to lay our lives down for our friends (John 15:13). #HarryPotter.

I’ll pray for you… 

For the longest time, when I said this, I meant it but would forget to follow through. To hedge the guilt of forgetting, I started to pray right away for that person—which I still do now. However, there are pray requests that are for more than just a moment. Prayer requests for healing of a marriage, from an illness, for guidance, etc. that are journey prayers. They need to be prayed over the journey. For those, the Hubby and I devised a system. We each have prayer lists in our notes apps that we add to and revise as needed. This helps us to stay true to our word. When we say, We’ll pray for you, we mean it. And sometimes God puts a person or issue on our hear that we pray for for years without ever being asked. Prayer is important; we need to stop watering it down by making empty promises of it to those beseeching our help.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. ~ James 5:16 (ESV)

He’s such a good man

Really? If someone said that I’m a good person, I might smile and accept, but I know myself. I am not good. I have done some pretty un-good stuff in my days, and thought some very un-nice things. I know me—I am not good. The problem is, when we use the word good, we mean: not as bad as the really bad people. Well, hey, maybe I am and maybe I’m not. I don’t have any felonies. I pay my taxes. I have a good relationship with my parents. And I’ve been happily married for 6.5 years. But does that automatically qualify me for goodness?

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone….” ~ Luke 18: 19 (ESV)

Good means perfect. But no one breathing on this planet is perfect—no matter how good they seem to us. The problem with ascribing good to that which is fallible is the setting up of unfair expectations. When we expect someone to be good, we are expecting them to be always good, to be perfect in their goodness. The problem is, who can live up to that standard? We all fall. We all make mistakes. That doesn’t mean we aren’t caring, kind people who are striving to be more and more like Christ—who was God and is good. Most of us, I think, are trying to be better. But when we are labeled good and fail, we are treated like the greatest disappointment.

If you have ever failed at being good, and were met with ridicule or criticism—by yourself or others—do not feel alone. We are all failures at being good. That is the whole point of Christ. He came and gave himself as an offering to wash away all of our un-goodness, all of our failures, so that, as we strive to be more good like him, we can brush off our failures, have them not counted against us, and give us the assurance of being found guilt-free when we stand before God in heaven. All he asks in return is for us to trust in him. Not a bad deal.

Don’t fall for the watered down version of words or phrases. Find out what they truly mean. For the truth will give you clarity and set you free.