Many years ago, Jana and I were making our first trip to England. We were spending the night at a bed and breakfast and having a lovely chat with the innkeeper as he served us a drink. I made an offhand comment that something in the news was “disgusting.”

The innkeeper abruptly, but politely, stopped me. He said something about Americans not knowing the language. He pointed out that the word “disgusting” should only be used to describe the most vile and awful things. Words matter, he said, and whatever I’d been talking about wasn’t right, but it wasn’t “disgusting.”

The innkeeper was right, and he was so gracious about correcting me, that instead of being embarrassed, it became a lesson I never forgot.

Words matter.

And so, I give you the word “amen.”

In biblical Greek, it’s ἀμήν.

Everyone says it, including nonbelievers, all the time.

We hear it at the end of a prayer and assume it’s just a formality, like adding a period at the end of a sentence.

The Old King James Bible says “verily.”

The New International Version says, “truly.”

Google, “amen” and the response is, “so be it.”

The synonym finder in Microsoft Word comes up with “I agree” and “you bet.”

A simple, throwaway word?

But what about when God uses it?

When Jesus says, “Truly I tell you…” he’s beginning a sentence with ἀμήν and saying, “Listen up! This is God speaking!”

When you hear Jesus say, “Truly” or “Verily” what he says next is truly, ultimately, always, and forever, important.

Life or death important.

Your eternal soul depends on this important.

Stop what you’re doing and listen up.