I have been thinking about the power of our words and the skill of listening lately. I want to share some of my thoughts on our words and speech with you in this post and follow up with another one on the skill of listening.
As a person who struggles with sins of the mouth, I have found the book of Proverbs to be a true light and gentle humbler. One thing I repeatedly read about and am convicted of, is my sin in gossiping. Proverbs 26:20 states, "Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down." I know I have fanned the flame of gossip by crossing the thin line of pure conversation into gossip. It makes me just sick to think of the harm my tongue has done when I speak of others business in an inappropriate manner. I am also ashamed to say that I have not learned the art of not listening to gossip. I say this is an art because I think as women we really have to practice shutting down and directing conversations that are not pure. I so desire to train my ears and mouth and mind to really evaluate what is being said, heard and thought of so as not to gossip. As I venture into more pure conversation I am learning that the line is a little fuzzy and it is best to just stay away from it. One tiny morsel of gossip leads to much more! If I have ever gossipped with you, please accept my apology and feel free to encourage me in conversation not to even start over that thin gray line into gossip.
As women we tend to want to discuss everything. But Proverbs 10:19 admonishes us that, "Where words are many sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." I had my eyes opened to a potential sin in Nancy Wilsons book, The Fruit of Her Hands. She advises that women never seek counsel about their husbands without the husbands approval. Her reasoning is that if you have an issue with him that requires counsel you need to include him in that process. She also advises that if their is a terrible sin that needs addressing and admonishment the church pastors are the only ones in authority to help. Our sisters, girlfriends and mama's are in no position to offer biblical authority. I love this point. As I have tried to honor Pete by asking his permission before seeking counsel, I have grown in respect and love for him. I am trying to encourage others to seek approval on counsel also. Our husbands are uniquely designed by God to lead and solve issues. As soon as we give them the chance to, they will be able to offer us counsel that will be blessed by God. One reason it is blessed, is simply because it is following God's order and design.
So we've seen how our words affect each other as sisters and our husbands, I would be sorely missing something if I didn't address the impact on our children. Our children from birth can sense mom's voice, her tone and what she is feeling. The way we speak to them will directly impact the way they speak to others. I confess that I struggle with yelling. Not angry yelling just loud talking. Every time I catch myself I think of this verse, Proverbs 7:11-12, "She is loud and defiant (the woman folly), her feet never stay at home; 12 now in the streets, now in the squares at every corner she lurks." What a women of folly I am to run around yelling at my children. I do several harmful things, I train my children to only come when I am yelling, I attract attention from those around me and I am drawing attention to myself, not Christ. Now I never yell to intentionally do any of those things, but without a little restraint I cause harm. This harm is all the more obvious when I have 3 little girls yelling at each other and hear the harshness in their words. There are so many ways as parents that we just speak without thinking and pass on poor habits. Our tone of voice should reflect our creator. In Proverbs 31 King Lemuels mother is encouraging him to find a wife of noble character, "she speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue" Proverbs 31:26. Somehow I don't think the woman she is talking about is yelling! We need to train appropriate voices and model them.
Our children also hear much of what we say. If we are on the phone with someone and start talking about a third party, guess who hears? If we are at the park and talking with someone thinking jr is not listening, guess again. We should all be wise about what we say whether our children are present or not. But a little extra vigilance when they are around is important. Do not assume they can't understand what you are saying about their Grandma to someone else. Our children learn how to speak respectfully or disrespectfully by our example. If you want them to love, honor and cherish others you must also.
I am a little exhausted after writing this. I feel so convicted by these thoughts and feel like I have a mountain to move in the way of my words. But, with the Bible as my guide and the Lords grace I know that I can change the habits I have allowed to grow over the years. My prayer is that God would so bless those efforts that my girls learn at a young age to speak in a kind, gentle and respectful way. What more motivation would a mama need?