It is … But You Call It By A Different Name



James MacDonald was speaking on Psalm 23 — “Capacity” – “My Cup Runneth Over.”

As he preaches this passage, he addresses . . . . being unkind in our words with others

and also uses an illustration from his own marriage . . . at the end of a stressful day . . . .

Okay, maybe (I was) slightly grumpy . . . . I was looking at some commentaries . . . . she (my wife) comes in  . . . .and she like . . . starts asking me questions about this family that we know . . . . finally I say . . . ‘I really don’t care about them right now.’ . . . .  . . . . . . . I don’t think I said “right now.” . . . I’m a little maxed out . . . right now . . . . 

(ironically & knowingly he then says) — So I went back to studying Psalm 23 . . . my cup runs over and everything.”

James MacDonald then goes on to address . . . .

  • why your cup may not be running over
  • why you are not experiencing your cup running over in your life

he goes on to say. . . .

What’s the problem?  . . . . the answer is only one thing – SIN

But we by no means usually except or recognize that . . . . we have many other more convenient names for those disturbances of heart which caused the cups to cease running over  . . .

  • We say it is nerves that causes us to speak impatiently not sin.
  • We say it is tiredness that causes us to speak the sharp word at home not sin
  • We say it is the pressure of work which causes us to lose our peace or to get worried or to act or speak hastily
  • We say it is our difficult or hurtful neighbor who causes us resentment or dislike or even hate but not sin

       anything but sin

Now this is an exceedingly important point  . . . . by far the largest number of us  . . . listen . . . including me . . . have not been accustomed to regard it as some form of sin . . .  if the cups ceased to run over . . . and that is just why they do not quickly start running all over again.

For where sin is seen to be sin and confessed as such the blood is always seen to be the blood . . . praise God . . . ever cleansing from all unrighteousness. . . . and the cup runs over again. . . . but the blood doesn’t cleanse excuses . . sin called by a more polite name.
When I heard him preach this message and say this, I thought (again) . . . .
“That a good way to develop a point as part of a message.”  You could help clarify, emphasize, intensify, develop, expand on a concept or point by doing that with other passages or biblical topics.”
I call the technique, “It is …. But You Call It By A Different Name.”*

Now we can take that same Rhetorical Technique and apply it to a variety of passages and/or points that we want to make in our own message . . .

  • even though we are not preaching on Psalm 23
  • even though we are dealing with a completely different subject than “capacity”
  • even though we are not even talking about sin, but we are addressing ..?…
  • even though we are NOT mimicking the actual words, we can use the technique


General Conceptual Form: We have better / different name for __?__.

Okay, here goes off the top of my head . . . . (Let’s take Philippians 4:6 – “be anxious for nothing”)

We don’t call it anxiety; we say we are apprehensive.

We don’t call it worry; we call it concern.

We don’t call it stressed out; we say we are worn out.

We don’t call it despair; we call it distracted.

We don’t call it chafing; we say we are just uneasy.


Let’s try the same technique with the topic of money or giving (Proverbs 11:24)

We call it frugal, but really we are stingy.

We call it carefulness, but in fact, we are unwilling to help

We call it trying to be “good stewards,” but the reality is that we are just the opposite of being good stewards.

We call it discerning, but the word “discernment” is a cloak for greed.

Let’s use the technique with the concept of “bitterness” or “unforgiveness” or “anger” . . . or … or … or


Let’s try it with a positive biblical concept and thereby twist the technique a little . . . . ( Let’s take Acts 4:36-37; Philippians 4:3 – “helpful”)

Some may misread it as nosey, but he or she is really just trying to be helpful.

Sometimes what you are doing may be seen as self-flattering, but you are really desirous of just helping.

It may be that some think you are trumpeting your resources, but you are actually seeking to helpfully share with others at a time of need.


*Note: You may want to make an actual paper notebook or a digital document which begins listing these various rhetorical techniques (which are “topoi” for the public speaker), and as you are working on a message, or seeking to add some more “meat to the bone,” you list jogs your mind.

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