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MAXIMS

 




MAXIMS

Here’s a toast to the simple sentence.

Here’s a salute to one-liners.

Join me in applauding the delete key and the eraser. May they feast on the trimmings of the writer’s table.

I believe in brevity. Cut the fat and keep the fact. Give us words to chew on, not words to wade through. Thoughts that spark, not lines that drag. More periods. Fewer commas.

 

Distill it.

Barebone it.

Bareknuckle it.

Concise (but not cute). Clear (but not shallow). Vivid (but not detailed). That’s good writing. That’s good reading.

But that’s hard work!

But, it’s what we like. We appreciate the chef who cuts the gristle before he serves the steak. We salute the communicator who does the same.

Ahhh, brevity. An art apparently unheeded in the realms of insurance brochures and some-assembly-required bicycle manuals.

 

We learn brevity from Jesus. His greatest sermon can be read in eight minutes (Matt. 5–7). His best-known story can be read in ninety seconds (Luke 15:11–32). He summarized prayer in five phrases (Matt. 6:9–13). He silenced accusers with one challenge (John 8:7). He rescued a soul with one sentence (Luke 23:43). He summarized the Law in three verses (Mark 12:29–31), and he reduced all his teachings to one command (John 15:12).

He made his point and went home.

 

We preachers would do well to imitate. (What’s that old line? “Our speaker today needs no introduction, but he could use a conclusion.”)

I believe in brevity. I believe that you, the reader, entrust me, the writer, with your most valued commodity—your time. I shouldn’t take more than my share. For that reason, I love the short sentence. Big-time game it is. Hiding in the jungle of circular construction and six-syllable canyons. As I write, I hunt. And when I find, I shoot. Then I drag the treasure out of the trees and marvel.

 

Not all of my prey make their way into chapters. So what becomes of them? I save them. But I can’t keep them to myself. So, may I invite you to see my trophy case? What follows are cuts from this book and a couple of others. Keep

                                              

the ones you like. Forgive the ones you don’t. Share them when you can. But if you do, keep it brief.

Pray all the time. If necessary, use words.

Sacrilege is to feel guilt for sins forgiven.

God forgets the past. Imitate him.

Greed I’ve often regretted. Generosity—never.

Never miss a chance to read a child a story.

Pursue forgiveness, not innocence.

Be doubly kind to the people who bring your food or park your car.

In buying a gift for your wife, practicality can be more expensive than extravagance.

Don’t ask God to do what you want. Ask God to do what is right.

Nails didn’t hold God to a cross. Love did.

You’ll give up on yourself before God will.

Know answered prayer when you see it, and don’t give up when you don’t.

Flattery is fancy dishonesty.

The right heart with the wrong creed is better than the right creed with the wrong heart.

We treat others as we perceive God is treating us.

Sometimes the most godly thing we can do is take a day off.

Faith in the future begets power in the present.

No one is useless to God. No one.

Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.

You will never forgive anyone more than God has already forgiven you.

Succeed in what matters.

You’ll regret opening your mouth. You’ll rarely regret keeping it shut.

To see sin without grace is despair. To see grace without sin is arrogance. To see them in tandem is conversion.

Faith is the grit in the soul that puts the dare into dreams.

God doesn’t keep a clock.

Never underestimate a gesture of affection.

When Jesus went home, he left the front door open.

And to sum it up:

As soon as you can, pay your debts.

As long as you can, give the benefit of the doubt.

As much as you can, give thanks. He’s already given us more than we deserve.

 

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