The banter has been mighty in our house this week. On Monday I collected my middle son, Ethan, at the bus stop. He got in the car and announced in horror that he had the worst homework ever.
Oh dear, I said and questioned if it was comprehension. No, he replied, I’ve to write a story on the journey of the SPERM! I exploded into laughter and Joshua followed suit, although I doubt very much that he fully understood what he was laughing about. However, he soon learnt, as Ethan was very forthcoming with all the information he needed to decide that this indeed was a very funny thing to have homework on. From what he was able to tell his younger brother he is right on track for an A star in biology and the whole baby making process. Much thanks to Ethan’s year 8 science teacher.
This topic has provided us (well mainly Joshua and me) with a lot of entertainment this week discussing it; partly because I thought it was super cute the way Ethan’s cheeks would ping pink, Joshua would look at me and give me a cheeky grin as if he was in on some super secretive intelligence (you know, being privy to information on the male reproduction system at just nine is a big deal), and poor Carter! would just cringe with the embarrassment of actually being related to these weirdos that thought this was an acceptable topic for family discussions (and I wonder why he never wants to hang out with us). He probably wouldn’t be the first teenager to block out the sound of his mother’s voice.
As the week went by, Ethan was able to tell when I was about to bring it up. After I said, “so Ethan”, he would quickly interrupt and say, “don’t say it Mum!, just don’t say it.”
Every day off the bus I would ask Ethan how was science with a playful wink and he would say, ” Don’t say it mum, just don’t say it!” It was all just for fun, a light-hearted attempt to reduce any embarrassment from this taboo subject.
Ethan’s Just don’t say it. would echo a little and got me thinking about what I do say. The scripture in the Bible that states that the tongue has the power to bring death or life.
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. Proverbs 18;21
That’s a pretty serious statement, and obviously I’m not referring to the playful banter I had with the boys.
But I know this to be very true indeed, having been on both the giving and receiving end of a critical tongue… The tongue is a powerful power tool and, used wisely, can be a great source of blessing to others to bring goodness and kindness and encouragement, even peace.
Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15.4
When I looked to the Bible for scriptures on the power of the tongue I found that there was no shortage of references. I’m left in absolutely no doubt that God put great importance on the power which this small but mighty piece of the anatomy held.
A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! James 3;3-5 msg
This week, briefly out of curiosity, I asked a friend on why she had moved from her old church to her current church and she replied that she didn’t want to talk about it because she believed in honouring her old church. Wow, I immediately thought this is the kinda woman I want to be. That ended that discussion and I quickly accepted that there was no information she would have given me that was helpful. I admired my friend’s integrity this is the kind of person I want to surround myself with.
As I drove home that evening after chatting with my friend I started to question my own character.
How often do I find myself in situations where I speak out in judgement of someone else, or I get drawn into an unkind discussion (gossip). How often do I speak critically of someone or something? How often do I answer in an angry, short or sharp tone? When my words are intended to pierce, how often do I grumble, moan and complain when things are not going my way?How often do I respond to something in anger and say something really hurtful?
ashamed, I confess i could recall more times than I’d like to admit. I take pride in the fact that I am someone who is always quick to encourage. If I see a good quality in someone I will be quick to speak it out to the person. I would n’t be shy about telling someone they are beautiful, or they spoke well, or their outfit is cute, or they have a pretty smile. I love to praise and encourage, especially in areas where I know there is a lack of praise or encouragement. I feel like it spreads the love and shines a little bit of God on a situation and I love that God puts me in a position to do that.
I had to be really honest and ask myself what good is all this light shining if at the same time I’m bringing death by criticising someone else or casting judgement on someone’s poor decision, or maybe being foul-mouthed or retaliating in anger, jealosy or resentment.
I was feeling less than proud of myself by the time I pulled into my drive. I’m so thankful God has surrounded me with friends in my life that will lead me by their behaviour and encourage me by their Godly example.
In Psalm 141.3 It tells you to pray, “set a guard over my mouth: keep watch over the door of my lips.”
This world is really a very cruel harsh place; people think it is more acceptable to be critical than kind. Look at any reality show with a judging panel. The more brutal and critical the judges, the better the ratings. Or the reality shows that thrive for conflict and contention… Individuals are raised to stardom through misconduct, and their ability to tear others to shreds. Our culture accepts this to be normal.
But it’s not normal in God’s kingdom, the scriptures are very clear about that. As a child of God, we are called to bring the kingdom of God to earth. We are in the privileged position to bring light, speak life, to create a culture of honour and respect, break away from gossip and hatred, encourage peace and live a life that honours authority not only God but those around us. I know in the past I’ve shied away speaking up against those who are being mean about others while in my company, I saw it as too confrontational. But we can encourage people through love to address these bad habits. Before I would rather have just sat there in silence than challenge bad behaviour. but I know If someone has a problem with someone else they should be talking to the other person about it, not me. I can communicate this in a loving manner.
Fill my heart full of truth from God’s word, read my Bible daily, pray for a heart more like jesus. Pray for opportunities to speak kind authentic words of encouragement to others. If I find myself in a difficult or challenging discussion, take my time to speak and Invite the Holy Spirit into the discussion.
I encourage you to regularly examine the state of your heart. Pray for God to highlight any areas where anger, hurt, jealousy or restatement might be hiding out and making itself at home in your heart.
Scripture tells us what is in our heart will come out of our mouth.
But you who are known as the Pharisees are rotten to the core! You’ve been poisoned by the nature of a venomous snake. How can your words be good and trustworthy if you are rotten within? For what has been stored up in your hearts will be heard in the overflow of your words!
Matthew 12;34 TPT
Get yourself an accountability partner, someone who you trust and give them permission to speak honestly into your life in order to encourage you to be the best version of yourself without you taking offence. (offence is a choice. you chose to be offended)
Make wise choices about the company you keep and what you are allowing to influence your life: friends, magazines, TV shows, game shows, music or YouTube videos.
Keep a pure heart. Fix your mind on things that are good and true. Don’t rely on yourself but depend on God. So when you mess up because we all do, you can take it to God and ask for forgiveness, then remember to accept it. Make apologies where needed and move on. Don’t keep beating yourself up. Learn from your mistakes and try to do better next time.
Shine a light.