How Do You Solve a Problem Like…

sound of music

When Elizabeth was small, she loved to sing. You may be thinking “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” or “The Wheels on the Bus” or even “Jesus Loves Me.” Well, I’m sure we sang those, too, but her favorite lyrics were from The Sound of Music. One of her favorite songs was “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” I’m sure I could find a home movie and upload it for your viewing pleasure, but instead, let me ask you to use your imagination.

Picture a three year old in a pink sundress. She’s standing in the kitchen singing the pithy prose from that Rogers and Hammerstein hit with predictable cuteness. Then she comes upon THE WORD. Sometimes she demurs, knowing it’s forbidden. Other times she belts it out, figuring she has found an opportunity for exception. And what is that word? HATE. “I HATE to have to say it, but I very firmly feel, Maria’s not an asset to the abbey.”

When my children were small, they weren’t allow to say “hate” or “stupid.” Lately I’ve been thinking about that rule, because I’ve been reading 1 Peter. It’s very convicting, particularly the second chapter. You see, I have allowed “hate” and “stupid” to creep back into my own vocabulary over the years, and I don’t think Peter would approve. Let me give you a sample of his words:

  • Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (1 Peter 2:1).
  • Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17).
  • But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:20-21).

When I say “hate” or “stupid,” my comments are probably at least a bit malicious or slanderous. They certainly aren’t loving or respectful. And I’m pretty sure they don’t qualify as following in Christ’s steps. And so, by God’s grace and with his ever-available forgiveness, I will begin again with a clean slate and a new determination to eliminate “hate” and “stupid” from my vocabulary.

Tell me, are there words want to eliminate as well?


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