What Words Really Mean

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries2 Minutes

“Philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday.” This was the observation of Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian who rose from obscurity to become perhaps the most influential philosopher of the twentieth century.

For eighteen years, he taught at Cambridge University in England, challenging students to realize the impact of their words, and how problems are created when we misinterpret what others have said. Misunderstandings about meaning have led to countless conflicts and even wars.

As words develop from various traditions and backgrounds, meanings can change over time. Different people can use the same word and mean completely different things. He observed how “our language can be seen as an ancient city.” Like “a maze of little streets and squares, of old and new houses, and of houses with additions from various periods.”

It is no accident that the question about meaning was a critical subject when Paul spoke in Athens, the center of the ancient philosophical world. These Athenians were not content merely to hear his message. They wanted to know what he meant. And when they understood, some believed (while others walked away).

Yet many Believers do not have this same commitment to understand the real meaning of God’s Word. They are content to cling to traditions and what others have said, perhaps not aware that God may have more to reveal to them. They are not teachable, and lack a commitment to search the Scriptures and seek God for His meaning.

In your life, learn the importance of a personal relationship with God. Make it a priority to study His Word. Don’t just make assumptions, but ask Him for meaning. Seek His understanding. Pray for wisdom and discernment. And apply these truths in your relationship with others. As Jesus often said, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”