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Long or Short?

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Long hair is more difficult to manage vs. short hair.

Following the same argument, long sentences are more difficult to understand than short ones. But many of my university and MBA students think that big words and long, run-on sentences make for more impressive academic papers.

“I am not impressed with big words and long sentences,” I said, smiling kindly so as not to offend them. (Students today are more vulnerable than we ever were. A teacher has to be careful with her words or she might be accused of bullying: Republic Act No. 10627 on anti-bullying.)

“What impresses you?” one asked.

“Short sentences and short paragraphs,” I said.

“Why?”

“Because, unless we are Ernest Hemingway, who can write an impeccable sentence with over 400 words, our complicated sentences might be misunderstood by the reader—particularly the person who will grade our paper.”

And so I sit down with each one, pointing out where a sentence may be simplified. In the process, they see how a thought written in a shorter sentence becomes so clear it could be understood even by a fifth grader.

In sharing the gospel, we sometimes use too many words, too, making it sound more complicated than it is. The Bible presents the good news of salvation in a simple language everybody should understand.

When Paul and Silas were preaching about Christ (Acts 16:20-32), they were imprisoned. Suddenly, a massive earthquake caused the jail door to open. The jailer panicked, thinking that his prisoners had escaped and tried to kill himself. Paul shouted, “Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” The jailer, trembling with fear, asked how he could be saved. Their simple reply, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”

God’s love story need not be belabored. It is grace—short and simple that even a fifth grader can understand: God sent His Son to save us from sin and death.

How then, can we share the gospel to doubters and unbelievers in a short and simple language?

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