“At first, I thought he was awful, but he turned out to be a nice guy.”
Think you know what that statement means? Consider the original meaning of these words:
- Awful. Something full of awe and inspiring awe.
- Nice. The word originally referred to something silly and foolish.
- Guy. This word used to refer to someone frightening. Guy Fawkes was part of an attempt to blow up the British Parliament in 1605. Afterwards, the people would burn his effigy—a “Guy Fawkes” or a “guy.”
A few hundred years ago, the statement above would’ve meant just the opposite of what it means today! Words change meaning over time. I’m going to give you one more example, and it will upset the churchy people in the crowd.
- Blessed. The word originally meant happy.
We don’t like to use the word “happy,” because we’ve all heard the sermons telling us that happiness is tied to our circumstances; God, on the other hand, blesses us with joy no matter the circumstances.
- “Blessed” just sounds more spiritual.
- “Happy” is a meal kids get at McDonalds.
But Jesus took happiness and turned it upside down. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus talked about finding happiness, but He gave it a surprising twist.
You want to be happy? I mean really happy? I mean live with a joy that lasts and is not tied to people, things, or circumstances? It comes through being poor in spirit, mourning, being meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, being merciful, being pure in heart, being a peacemaker, and even in being persecuted because of righteousness. (My pryor-phrase of Matt. 5:3-12.)
Centuries earlier, the psalmist made a similar statement:
“How happy are those whose way is blameless, who live according to the Lord’s instruction!” (Ps. 119:1).
God created us, and He knows exactly what we need to get the greatest joy and happiness out of life. And because He loves us, He didn’t leave us without direction on how to experience life to the fullest. He gave us instructions through the Bible.
It makes sense, then, if I want to be happy—blessed!—I need to read, know, and follow what God shows me through His Word.
I ‘m glad they change meanings because I would be like okay that’s good. I thought awesome meant full of awe. And awful meant something was bad.