Every encounter you have might be the last chance you have to express love. What can you do to weed words out of your vocabulary that might leave a sour last taste? #socialjustice #love #Jesus
Every encounter you have might be the last chance you have to express love. What can you do to weed words out of your vocabulary that might leave a sour last taste? #socialjustice #love #Jesus

When was the last time you took a leap and yelled, “Geronimo!”?

Or the last time you complained because somebody ‘gypped’ you or tried to ‘jew’ you down?

Language has to power to leave a lasting impression. Sometimes, that impression programs us to think differently about other people without us even realizing it. The etymology (history) of the word ‘gyp’ leads back to the word ‘Gypsy.’ Using that term may cause the hearer or the user to conjure up a stereotype of a swindling Gypsy.

To ‘jew down’ the price perpetuates the stereotype of Jews as moneylenders with usurious rates.

Every encounter you have might be the last chance you have to express love. What can you do to weed words out of your vocabulary that might leave a sour last taste? #socialjustice #love #Jesus

And while little kids may gleefully shout ‘Geronimo!’ as they leap from place to place, do they really understand anything about Geronimo? This Chiricahua Apache Chief dedicated his life to seeking justice for his people from the white invaders who threatened his homeland and offered bounties for his people’s scalps—in the 20th Century.

Words and actions have the power to leave wounds that last in the psyche of the marginalized. As unbiased and unprejudiced as I like to think I am, I recently realized I unintentionally used microaggressions that perpetuated stereotypes.

While talking to a colleague about a friend of mine who has toddlers ten months apart, I jokingly referred to her children as ‘Irish twins.’

“I’m Irish,” my colleague said.

At that moment I wanted to yank my foot out of my mouth. I had no idea she had Irish roots, nor that using the term ‘Irish twins’ could come across as insulting. But it did—it perpetuated the stereotype about the Irish and prolific families.

As Christians, we want love to leave the last impression with our words, not offensive stereotypes.

Jesus Calls Us to a Higher Standard

And while some people may rail at the idea of microaggressions and white privilege, we have to realize Jesus calls us to a higher standard than the world. As Christians, we should lead the charge for equality, social justice, and loving everyone—not just the people who look and talk like us.

Christians should lead the charge for equality, social justice, and loving the marginalized. #socialjustice #christian Click To Tweet

If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!

Luke 6:32

Jesus doesn’t waste any words about his expectations:

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 13:34-35

Loving everyone means learning to speak in ways that build them up rather than tear them down. If you want your words to last, speak them in love.

Read this for an in-depth look at microaggressions and how they affect us.

12 Comments

  1. I hope my words don’t give offense,
    but if so, I don’t care,
    because in my own life’s defense,
    I’ve more than I can bear.
    Besides, I know how it feels,
    more than one may think,
    and there was nothing they could steal
    when they called me ‘Chink’.
    With cheekbones high and slanted eyes,
    I’m Eastern, through and through
    (though in some geneticist’s surprise,
    both my eyes are blue!).
    Let them look right down their nose
    in that classic stupid pose.

  2. So true that we should want love to leave a lasting impression with our words and not offense to be what we leave with them. Seeking to speak life giving words that allows them to feel loved should definitely be our goal! You’ve shared points for us to think about as far as things we may not even realize would be offensive. I’m looking forward to your upcoming post!

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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