Many years ago, when Rudyard Kipling was one of the most popular writers of his time, he received fifty cents for every word he wrote for his newspaper. Not exactly impressed, some students at Oxford University sent Kipling fifty cents with this request: “Please send us one of your very best words.” Kipling immediately sent a cable to the students with a one-word message: “Thanks!”
That’s really a great and humorous answer! It was an answer to the question, as well as appreciation for the payment! The word “thanks” works well on so many levels. As we celebrate our national holiday of Thanksgiving, we do well to say “thanks” to each other and to God for the blessings of life. Thanks be to God for the gifts, talents, food, shelter we enjoy. Thanks be to God for the love of family and friends. Thanks be to God for becoming one of us, in Jesus. Thanks be to God for the gift of salvation. Thanks be to God.
There are, of course, other best words. Love, peace, and joy immediately come to mind. These are soulful gifts of God, as well as deep desires we often pray for.
But let’s not forget the other side of the coin. Some of our best words are “no” and “stop.” We need words like this to remind us to keep away from danger, sin, and evil.
When Paul was writing to the church at Corinth, he had a great deal to teach. When it came to divisions in the church, immorality, infidelity, and other problems, Paul clearly taught “no” and “stop.” But I find it significant that Paul began his first letter to the Corinthians with the words, “I always give thanks to God for you because of the grace given to you through Christ Jesus.” Even though the people were doing wrong, Paul was thankful for them.
It’s not always easy to give thanks when danger, sin, and evil abound in the world. But we all need to rise above all that’s bad, and speak our very best words: thanks, love, peace, joy, and Jesus (all said in holy ways! AMEN!)