God gave us language that we might understand the truth and that our communication would be truthful. Words have power, they can build up and they can destroy and therefore choosing our words carefully before we speak them is very important, especially when they are spoken to children who develop quickly and believe easily. The words that we speak are words that we believe and have therefore heard. This means that the words we speak to our children will depend on the words that we know and believe. Since God’s word enables as well as explains it is important that these words are spoken to children and therefore the commitment a parent makes to speak the right words to their children will be determined by their own commitment to hearing the word of God.
Hearing, believing and speaking
In 1 Corinthians 7:14, Children of believing parents are considered holy and the parents who believe the meaning of the words they read will speak to their children differently than those parents who do not believe what these words mean. Since it is the case that there is a clear connection between hearing, believing and speaking words, and our commitment to the word of God determining our words, parents will learn how to speak to their children if they commit to being spoken to by God through His word. Therefore, parents must be committed to hearing, believing and speaking the word of God which includes all the implications and applications of the scriptures. This will also determine the tone and volume of parents communication with their children, everything from soft answers to words which address the conscience. It will teach fathers to tell their sons that they love them and why they should hug and kiss them. Either the content of our communication will be determined by the word of God or they will be ruled by our tongue which James calls a restless evil.
The reason why many should not become teachers is that they will face a stricter judgement. They face a stricter judgement because words can build and destroy and how to use them properly requires wisdom. The tongue is a fire starter and a restless evil, full of deadly poison, which we use to bless our Lord and curse people made in His likeness. As we confess our sin to God in prayer will often use the tongue that we have sinned with and for this reason, we must come to God and ask for wisdom that our hearts and mouth will be full of good words seasoned with salt.
The aim is to speak words that are like life-giving water (prove 18:4) and realise that our words will build or destroy (Prov 12:6). If we have read the beginning of God’s word to us, we will know that God created the world and upholds it by the power of His word (Gen 1, Col 1:17, Heb 1:1-4). Satan, however, seeks to destroy with the lies that he tells and even though Peter was a follower of Christ, when he spoke words that were not informed by the will of God but the things of men, Jesus spoke to him saying ‘get behind me satan’. what we learn from this is that even though Peter was a follower of Christ even he and we if we are not careful can become the mouthpiece of Satan.
Choosing what is better
The difference between Martha and Mary according to Jesus is that Mary had chosen what was better. She had chosen to sit and listen to Jesus and this would not be taken away from her. If we want to speak like Jesus, then we need to listen to Jesus as He shows us how it’s done and if we want our children to do the same then they must be encouraged to sit and listen to Jesus as well.
When Jesus taught, that we are not created to live on bread alone but every word which proceeds from the mouth of God. It means that as people we are dependent on those words and as we seek to communicate these words of God to our children we are at the same time seeking to build their lives on solid ground. Wise builders hear and do the words of Jesus and in this sense doing the words means speaking them.
Words that children want to hear
When there are several children within a family and words are spoken to one which are overheard by the others, these same words will often be sought after. Phrases like ‘you never say…’ or ‘you always say that about…’ can often be good indicators that this child wants to have the same things spoken to them, and even if they are, it indicates that they might need to be said more often. The long term impact of words spoken to children is not something we can set aside, since words can build or destroy. The words spoken to children will determine many behaviours and choices they make and therefore giving them God’s word is how we give them the very resources they will need.
As an example, we can turn to two brothers, Jacob and Esau. God ordained that the older would serve the younger and this decision was made before either of them were born. At the time when Esau was to receive the birthright blessing, words spoken by the father to his firstborn son, he sold the right to Jacob his younger brother for a dish of stew. Jacob dressed as Esau but he couldn’t hide his voice, yet it was enough of a disguise to confuse their ageing father. As Issac gave the blessing and Jacob listened what are we to make of this? What comfort could Jacob have received hearing words which he knew were meant for his older brother Esau and knowing that this was who he knew that his father though he was speaking to?
Words shape people and perhaps Jacob needed to hear these words spoken to him by his father so much, in a family where favouritism ruled and where Jacob was not the favourite of his father, that he was even willing to hear them under these conditions. We should recognise that we have been created to live on words as well as food and since it is the word of God (Jesus) who holds all things together, we return to the very obvious conclusion that it is His words that we must be speaking.