Watch Your Abbreviations!

by William J. Stewart

We live in an age where abbreviations are used extensively in informal written communication (texting, social media, etc.), and even to some degree in day to day conversation. Maybe you’ve overheard a teenage girl talking about her BFF, but didn’t know what that meant? That is her “Best Friend Forever.” If you are on Facebook, you’ve likely seen and perhaps used LOL (laughing out loud) or in a chat room, you will often see BRB (be right back). There are a bunch of harmless short forms being used for communication today, though it can be frustrating if you don’t know what they mean. It wasn’t too long ago, I would see SMH or IDK or TTYL and had no clue what people were writing. Online communication has certainly become a language of it’s own at times.

One would think it should go without saying, and yet sadly it needs to be said, that there are certain abbreviations Christians should not be using in their online communications. If it is vulgar or crude to speak a word or phrase, it is equally inappropriate to say or write an abbreviation of the same. It’s rare, but I have seen Christians use abbreviated phrases online, which if I asked them to translate for or explain to me, they’d be embarrassed to do so. Brethren, we ought to know better and do better.

One of the most common abbreviations being used today, whether it be online or in day to day conversation, is OMG.  It’s not a short form for a fruity snack (Oranges, Mangos & Grapes). Rather than saying, “O My God,” people, some Christians included, write or say OMG. So, what is the problem? God’s word says we need to hold God in high esteem, and not speak of Him in vain (Exodus 20:7; Psalm 139:20; Malachi 2:2; Matthew 6:9). When people use OMG or “O my God,” it is used to express surprise or excitement, and has nothing at all to do with God. It is a vain use of the word God; it cheapens the glory of God; it takes focus off the one true God and makes the word nothing more than a slang catchword.

Understand, there is nothing wrong with the phrase itself. It is the way in which it is being used. Look in your Bible, and you will find the phrase, “O my God” no less than 21 times, and further, you will find variations of it such as “O LORD my God,” or just “my God” several dozen more times. How did the Bible writers use the phrase? It was to exalt God for His goodness. It was to entreat God’s presence. It was to petition God for His help. It was praise God for His faithfulness. It was to thank God for His word. It was to declare confidence in God. It was not to express glee at the cuteness of a baby photo. It was not to declare shock at someone’s actions. It was not a snooty way to jeer another person’s words.

Friends, let’s think before we speak or write. If you want to express your shock or astonishment at something, use “WOW” or something akin to it, not “OMG.” References to God should bring glory to Him and His name.

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