Have you ever thought about the question of what language we’ll be speaking in heaven?

Yesterday, here in a church in South Africa I asked that question and to my surprise (I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised given where I was, but nonethess I was) the people spontaneously responded by enthusiastically saying it will be Africaans. I’m sure they hope that’s what it will be, but I think they were just kidding. However, they really do love their language and that’s fine except that Carol and I can only understand or speak a couple of words in the language, but we’re going to try to learn more. Fortunately for us, most of the people speak English.

But all of that about the Africaan’s language aside, after asking the question and getting their response, I went on to say that I don’t know what language we’ll be speaking in heaven, but I do know from many passages (especially in the book of Revelation) describing what people in heaven are saying – I know that whatever language we’ll be speaking in heaven will be filled with expressions of praise and thanksgiving to God and especially to the Lamb who has redeemed us by His blood from every tribe, tongue and nation. One thing for sure about the people in heaven, they won’t be complaining, murmuring, griping or grumbling – only praising and giving thanks. Won’t it be wonderful to be in a place and among people like that?

One other thing I know for sure is that whatever language we who have been redeemed by Christ speak on earth, it should also be filled with expressions of thanksgiving. After all, the Bible says we are to give thanks in everything (I Thessalonians 5:18); we are to overflow with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6) and we are to give thanks always (Ephesians 5:20). Note the words describing how we are to give thanks – “in everything”, “overflow” and “always”. Man, that’s a lot of thanksgiving. It’s as if God wants thanksgiving to be a lifestyle for us. The question is: does that in any way describe our lifestyle? As an extension of this same thought, or perhaps I should say as the flip side of this thought, the Bible also says we are to “do all things without grumbling or disputing so that (we) will prove (ourselves) to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom (we) appear as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:14 – 15). Grumbling and disputing are the flip side of thanksgiving in that people who are grumbling and complaining certainly aren’t giving thanks always. The two are opposites; they can’t exist in the same heart or life at the same time. For sure if we’re grumbling and complaining, we are not giving thanks. And for sure, if that’s what we’re doing, we’re not ” blameless and innocent” and we’re not “shining as lights in the world”. In reality what we’re doing is adding to the darkness and being just like the “crooked and perverse generation” all around us. Could that be one of the reasons why we as Christians seem to be making such a little impact on the needy world around us?

Well, these biblically based thoughts have convicted and challenged me. I’ve had to do some self examination and some repenting and confessing my sin to God. And I’ve made a new commitment to try to model my speech on earth after the speech of the believers who are already in heaven rather than after the speech of people who are part of the unbelieving generation around us. Will you join with me in making the same commitment? And why not start today to overflow with thanksgiving?

More about this in the future as I deal with the questions: Isn’t it absurd or unrealistic to expect us to give thanks always and in everything? What hinders us from giving thanks in everything? And how can we develop a lifestyle of thanksgiving?