He Used His Words Carefully

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

**This post is part of the current series "Who Was Jesus?  Practical Ways to Teach Our Children About Who Christ IS"  You can find the entire series linked up here when we are done.**
We are currently in one of the worst droughts Texas has ever seen.  My grandparent's generation talks about being young the last time we experienced a drought this bad.  Some counties are starting water rations, yards everywhere are brown and dry, and it doesn't look like there is rain anywhere in sight.  Almost every county in Texas has a burn ban in place.  While on vacation, my children had a hard time understanding why we couldn't have a campfire to make smores.  I had to explain that during extremely dry conditions, burn bans are issued because the majority of fires are started by the carelessness of humans.  All it takes in one little spark from a campfire blowing in the wind to ignite a blaze that can destroy hundreds or thousands of acres of forest. 
Our words can often be like one little spark.  They seem small and harmless on their own, but the end result could be acres of shattered lives.  When used carelessly, our tongues utter words that stand in contrast to God's love.  Who among us has not ever wished we could take back something we said?  Our words can greatly benefit others, but they can also damage them.  This is an area that can be often overlooked, because we don't see how damaging our words can be. 

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.  Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
It is easy for us to talk about how our world is falling apart...  politically, socially, morally.  But do we think about the damage our words can cause in the lives of those that are closest to us?  Why is it so hard to tame our tongues?  Sometimes, it is hard to believe that there are aspects of our lives that are directly affected by hell itself, but James is very clear that our tonges are set on fire by hell itself.  Satan knows where we are weak and he will use those areas against us!
Our words are like a river.  They can mold and shape our children.
This is an area where are children learn from us the most.  Because they are listening and watching, even when we think it does not matter.  Of all the struggles life presents to us, there is perhaps no greater struggle than our battle with our tongue.  We may try to tame this smallest part of our body, but if we are not careful, it can wreak havoc on ourselves and our family when it goes unchecked.  Without God's help, the fires of hell will spew out of our mouth and start fires that we can't put out. 

So how can we teach our children the power of their words? 
1.  PRAY:
When you hear your children saying something harsh, rude, or unkind...  stop and pray with them right then and there.  Take stock of our own words, and ask God to bring to light any of our own words that we might need to apologize for.  In our quiet times, pray that God will help to tame our tongues and ask God to use our tongues to bring life.

2.  GET INVOLVED:
Get your children to do this simple and fun activity with you.  You will need a tube of toothpaste, a plate, and a spoon for each child.  Start by telling them that you want them to squeeze out the entire tube of toothpaste onto the plate.  They will ask why, but tell them that they will find out shortly.  When the tubes are empty, now tell them that you have changed your mind, that you now want them to put the toothpast back into the tube.  Again, don't tell them why, but notice their comments.  Talk with them about how hard it is to put the toothpaste back in, how impossible.  When they are done trying, explain to them that our words are like the toothpaste, once they come out, you can apologize, and you can say "I take it back", but once they are out, there is no going back in. 

Father God, I pray about my words.  I pray that you guide my tongue.  I pray that you give me self control and patience in hard situations when my children are watching and listening to how I react.  I pray that you give me words that are kind and loving and supportive and respectful, not words that criticize and destroy.  I want my words to bring life and love to others, not spew fires that I can't put out.  I pray that my children would learn from you, not from friends or television or songs they listen to, but help me to realize that they are only going to learn from you by watching me.  In Christ, amen.

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