Are You Perspicuous?

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Perspicuity is when you can be clearly understood due to precise or accurate presentation.  It is not simply about clarity or understanding.  It contains the notion that what might be otherwise unclear becomes clear due distinctly to the accuracy of the ones argument or explanation.  Perspicuous people are people who have that innate or learned ability to make complicated things very simple.  They take complex truth and make them easy to understand.  I have had perspicuous language teachers- taking the hard-to-understand elements of linguistics and making them like a fun and easily decipherable word puzzle. 

I think we have often heard people who were the opposite of that.  They make complex truths even more complicated.  They are able to take something simple and make it muddy.  A friend of mine told me of his relative who said about a convoluted message from a long-winded preacher, “The only way that preacher could have said less would have been to talk more.”  That makes me smile.  I think I heard the same guy.  Perhaps from time to time, I’m that guy.  I hope not. 

However, I have heard people do that.  In fact, one time I heard a pastor preaching a message about the relationship between God’s grace and our faith.  The deeper he delved into the subject, the less grace and faith sounding his description became.  He was forging into deep theological jungle without a verbal machete.  His audience’s confusion became more and more obvious as the furrows in their brow became deeper.  It was so exhaustingly confusing that I was praying for him to quit while there was still some sense that grace and faith were good things.  I did not realize that my prayer that was intended to be a private one was verbalized (a problem I have from time to time- praying aloud when intending to be quiet).  I muttered, “Lord, help him land the plane now before it crashes.”  A weary woman in front of me said, “Yes, Lord!  Please!” 

The reason I mention this is that most people I know pray for wisdom and clarity in proclaiming the life giving message of salvation in Christ.  I think anyone who possesses the truth would like to share it meaningfully with others.  However, many of those people who pray for clarity spend very little time working at being clear, convincing, helpful and informative.  They just kick the mouth into gear, step on the gas, hope the brakes don’t give out and eventually arrive at a good destination.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  Those folks often quote a Scripture that Jesus reserved for uniquely critical times of intense and unpredictable persecution (Luke 24:14-15), “Don’t worry in advance what you should say.  I will give you the right words and wisdom. . . .”  That should not be used by a teacher who didn’t take time to prepare the lesson plan.  It should not be the strategy of a paid counselor who gave no thought to the critical session of a frail counselee.  It should not be the rationale of one who is going to have coffee with a friend who is desperately looking for answers.  In those cases, Colossians 4:3-4 is more pertinent to our approach. 

So, work to become perspicuous.  Look for ways to clear things up in your own mind.  Then, figure out ways of making it understandable for others.  Listen to people who say important things in ways that make it easy to understand.  Take the time to practice your own explanations with others.  Then, let the Holy Spirit take your words and have his way.  Your words, of themselves, will never convict or convince.  That is ultimately the Holy Spirit’s job (John 14:26; 16:8-11).  However, work with Him rather than against Him.  Don’t make Him work overtime to patch up a job poorly done. 

Matthew Thomas
By Matthew Thomas

In my sixth decade of seeing God work simply increases my faith. Born in California, raised in Washington, ministered in Washington, Oregon, Canada, Philippines, Idaho and now all over the world has given me reason to believe and praise. My wife, Marlene and four children (Luke, Mitch, Samuel and Charese) give me reason to give deep thanks. My eight beautiful grandchildren (Jalen, Jordan, Katelin, Andrew, Eli, Callia, Asher and Mikaela) give me reason to see that grace reaches beyond our immediate present into our un-conceived future. Serving with a great team in the Free Methodist Church makes me a blessed person in a blessed place, serving with blessed people.

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