The Super Bowl. The BCS Championship. The World Series. March Madness. These are just a few of the best championships in all of sports. I enjoy them all, especially when my favorite team is not involved (that stress takes all the fun out of it). But I must confess that my favorite championship is the National Spelling Bee. I know, you jocks out there think that the BEE is not a sport. Tell that to 11 million kids (and ESPN)! The National Spelling Bee has all the competitive qualities of any athletic endeavor, the requisite training, and the individuals with elite skills and abilities. You also have the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!
These kids certainly make you feel less than intelligent (that’s putting it nicely). It’s amazing when you actually hear a word you know, even if you can’t spell it! I enjoy hearing the stories and see the passion of these families. And it is very educational, for those of us who enjoy etymology. So in honor of the National Spelling Bee, here are today’s spelling words:
Spelling Word #1: P-A-S-S-I-O-N. These spellers have a passion for words. They memorize, they study etymology, they learn definitions. They absolutely LOVE words. This is the sort of love for learning that we need to see more of in our world today. But more importantly, we need to see a passion for knowledge from our Christian young people. What if our children loved the WORD of God this much? What if they studied their Bibles to build their Christian vocabularies? If the next generation had an excitement for the words in the Bible as these spellers do, what an impact they would have!
Spelling Word #2: K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E. The top spellers seem to just enjoy gaining knowledge. When the winner of this year’s Bee was asked what he was going to do with all his free time, he said he could spend a whole day just studying physics! Not the typical response from your average 13-year old. How great it would be if the teens in our churches looked forward to gaining knowledge of God, His Word, and His work in this world. Knowledge alone doesn’t save, but the gaining of knowledge is vital in order to grow in WISDOM! Our young people should put the effort into gaining the knowledge of the truth.
Spelling Word #3: D-I-L-I-G-E-N-C-E. Clearly, the nation’s top spellers display amazing diligence. The incredible mental effort, all the repetition, and the daunting amount of words to memorize demonstrate marvelous diligence. Now apply this level of diligence to the study of God’s Word. And not just to win some sort of Bible trivia competition. If our children diligently filled their mind with truth they would glorify God with their Spirit-led effort.
Spelling Word #4: S-A-C-R-I-F-I-C-E. The best spellers gave up a lot to get to Washington D.C. Many gave up television, time with friends, and all sorts of other recreations. The sacrifice might seem silly to many, but it is necessary to even have a chance to win the prize. How often do we see this sort of sacrifice for the Kingdom of God?
Spelling Word #5: U-N-F-L-A-P-P-A-B-L-E. It is truly amazing how confident these spellers are. They are gutsy and seemingly unflappable. They have prepared so well that they almost seem cocky. Clearly, they are knowledgeable about words in ways that few of us are. Our young people need this confidence in the face of the temptations of this world. They need to become more unflappable and unmoved by all the devil throws at them. This is not some sort of self-righteous pride. Instead, when we trust in the LORD, we can know that He will deliver us in all situations.
Spelling Word #6: A-B-A-D-D-O-N. This is one of the few words I knew how to spell–and the definition too, since it is a Biblical word! Abaddon is both a place of destruction (connected to Sheol) as well as a destroying angel. Why is it an important word? It reminds us that too many of our young people are on a path of destruction. They need to learn words like G-R-A-C-E and R-E-P-E-N-T-A-N-C-E!
Spelling Word #7: K-N-A-I-D-E-L. This was the 2013 winning word. A knaidel is a Jewish dumpling, usually served in soup. Sounds like a matzah ball to me! Arvind, this year’s winner (I’ve been cheering for him for years!) actually lost the last two years on words with German etymology. He re-dedicated himself to learn Germanic roots like never before, and actually won with this German/Hebrew word. Do I need to say more? We need to see this sort of never-say-die effort from more children and teens who profess faith in Jesus Christ!