Small Words – Big Consequences

The other morning, I thought I would make a healthy breakfast for my family. No one was awake yet, so there was no one to remind me of my lack of cooking skills.

Wicked Bible.jpg
Photo by Narrington on Wikipedia

“Steel-cut oats sounds like just the thing!” I thought. Two cups of water, two-thirds of a cup of oats, and a quarter cup of salt, I read. You perceptive readers recognized instantly that I forgot to put on my glasses. There is a vast difference between a quarter cup and a quarter teaspoon of salt!

Boil the water, add the oats, and simmer for twenty minutes. For someone with a short attention span, twenty minutes is forever. I boiled the water, added the oats, and walked away. You perceptive readers have again noted the difference between “boiling” and “simmering.” That’s an important difference because when I came back, my pot had turned into Mt. Vesuvius, covering the stovetop with something akin to fried wallpaper paste.

Fortunately, everyone except the cat and dog was still asleep. The pets were laughing hysterically. I managed to clean up the mess, salvage some of the oatmeal, and topped it off with a mountain of strawberries. It looked great! Then, served with a silver spoon, I took breakfast in bed to mom and Jan. I was the hero of the hour! But did I mention their reactions when they tasted the salted oats? It was the same as when Jesus spewed the lukewarm Laodiceans out of his mouth. It wasn’t pretty.

Small mistakes can have dire consequences. Little changes make a huge difference. My father was a quality control engineer, and he once told me of a company that was riveting airplane parts. The rivets fit was so tight that it was almost impossible to complete, so they began making the holes just a hair larger. Yes, it was much easier to assemble the wings, but those tiny holes became much larger under stress, and the rivets fell out. Consequently, the wings fell apart at the worst possible time. Little changes have huge consequences.

The printers of the 1631 edition of the King James Bible made a serious mistake. When they set the type for the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14), they left the word “not” out of the seventh commandment. It read: “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Thus, the birth of the “Wicked Bible” and a stint in the Tower of London for the printers. Small word – big consequences.

“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things” (James 3:2 – 5).

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