“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.” Proverbs 18:21 (Amp)
My sweet boy is 19 months old now. He’s got a range of words he can say – anything from “Daddy” to “lemming”. (Yes, lemming. It’s a book about an owl, but the only page relevant to his life at this moment is the one with the lemming about to be eaten. Go figure.) And as of today, we’ve entered the age of “no”, even to things he actually wants. It just feels good to have the power of rejection on the tip of his tongue, I guess. Gotta flex that strong, independent will.
And my goodness, he is smart. Stinkin’ smart. I learned that on our recent vacation to Maine. Naturally, Matt had much more opportunity to interact with David than he normally does, and I learned a lot just watching them. If Matt wanted David to do something – even if he thought it a little beyond David’s comprehension – he’d get down to David’s level and make eye contact, then explain the expectation. Of course, in my infinite mommy wisdom, borne of many hours of hands on experience, I’d smile and shake my head. Nice try, Daddy; he’s just too young for that. But you know what? Nine times out of ten, our little stinker rose to the occasion. I was floored.
Since then, I’ve been working on communicating better with our son. But, too, I’ve become very aware of what I’m saying around him. Am I speaking life over my son? The Proverbs verse above suggests that my words are seeds which will eventually bear fruit. Just what am I planting? I have to check myself as I retell events regarding his funny misbehavior earlier in the day, directly over his little ears. I must make it a point to speak love, to him and regarding him. I have to mind that I’m setting an example in other ways, too. Ephesians 4:29 says that there should be nothing unwholesome about my talk, but rather it should build others up. Proverbs 31:26, describing the virtuous woman, says that “the law of kindness is in her tongue.” Yeah, there’s more than a little conviction there. What law has been dictating what I say lately? Conceit? Bitterness? Cynicism? Fear? Self-consciousness?
Which leads me back to Proverbs 31:12-13, where the writer describes the virtuous woman’s speech about her husband. It says that she “comforts and encourages” him; that the heart of her husband trusts her; that she doesn’t say anything that would do him harm, but good, all the days of his life. Wow. You hear pastors and speakers giving 30-day challenges, but the Bible doesn’t mess around. Am I speaking life over my husband? Or am I undermining our relationship and God’s plans for him with critical remarks? (Am I doing this to fit in with other wives?)
We had a guest speaker at church this previous Sunday, who offered me this friendly marital advice as we exited the service: reverence my husband. It ruffled my proverbial feathers a little; after all, this guy doesn’t even know me. But nonetheless, the Holy Spirit nudged me. Am I treating my husband with deep respect when I speak of or to him? Not because he’s perfect and I’m a worm. Not even particularly because he’s a man and I’m a woman. Not because of anything short of a scriptural mandate to honor him out of love. (1 Peter 3:1-6) You want to see a marriage transform and good fruit come of it? Plant seeds of respect and kindness now, in faith. I know first hand what the wrong seeds do, but I’ve also seen some pretty stunning examples of godly wives and their families. God is definitely a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Scripture says this is a matter of life and death. It further says that if I’m not bridling my tongue, my religion is worthless. (James 1:26) Did I mention it’s becoming clearer to me lately that God really doesn’t mess around with this? But I can’t delude myself, thinking that I don’t mean the things that I say. Christ Himself taught that “…whatever word comes out of the mouth comes from the heart…” (Matthew 15:18) I don’t just need a bridle on my tongue; I need heart surgery. For the sake of pleasing God, having a credible testimony, and speaking life over my loved ones, I need my heart to be changed from one of carelessness to one of intense, godly discipline. Praise God, we have this promise:
“For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13, Amp)