The Oxford English Dictionary recently published its findings of new words that have made it into the dictionary.   It may have exercised the minds of some purists but the list includes some abbreviations and the heart symbol. Their website points out that although these may have been popularised fairly recently, the origins of them go back several decades at least.

For  example, I ♥NY dates to at least as far back as 1984, where the symbol ‘heart’ stands for ‘enthusiasm’ or ‘love’ for the city of New York. The symbol, of course, has been around much longer (e.g. a standard pack of playing cards). LOL (laugh out loud), FYI (for your information) and IMHO (in my humble opinion) have also been recognised as ‘initialisms’. In fact the word ‘initialism’ is a new word for me as well as for this computer’s spell-checker!

It so happens that the other day at church we took the ♥ theme from the reading in 1 Samuel chapter 16 in particular verse 7: People look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. The context is when the prophet Samuel is looking for a new king to replace the old one and he has been sizing up a number of candidates. God warns him not to be taken in by appearances and tells him that the heart is what matters. In other words, what does the person have enthusiasm for, what is their passion, what do they love?

The gist of the sermon was to ask what do people see and what does God see? However, I broke one of the cardinal rules that apply to giving a speech, telling a joke or preaching a sermon: I did not have a punchline. In the end I had to ask the audience congregation and I am glad I did. One person astutely observed (I don’t remember the exact words she used) that “God sees right through us. He knows what we are really like – you can’t hide from him who and what you really are.” That means he knows how “bad” we can be – but nonetheless he still loves us and is merciful. But the following point is just as important: God can see right through who we are to what we can become. He sees our potential just as clearly as anything else even if others, perhaps including ourselves, do not see it.That’s what was happening when Samuel saw the young shepherd boy David who went on to become king.

So when we say that God can see right through us, that is not to say that he is planning on catching us out. It is to suggest that God may have more faith in us and, what we may become, than we have in ourselves.