"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,
but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion,
that it may give grace to those who hear."
So I'm really thinking there's something about that old adage. The one that says that 'if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all'. At least it's one I've been digging out from the treasure chest of proverbs and been reciting for my children.
The way they sometimes talk to one another makes my toes curl. It breaks my heart that my own flesh and blood is sparring words with my own flesh and blood.
Some would say it's harmless sibling rivalry and that really it's quite tame. We have pretty strict rules when it comes to speech in our home. I've little tolerance for inappropriate words. Only once in my life have I let a swear word slip and that was in grade 8, when I thought it might make me sound 'cool'. I decided then and there that I didn't have to use such vocabulary to describe my feelings and I figured it showed a lack of intelligence to have to use such language. My virgin ears still cringe when I hear coarse language.
Nonetheless, the words in our homes need to promote growth and not provoke grievances.
"If anyone thinks he is religious and
does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart,
this person’s religion is worthless."
The way siblings treat one another has a large impact on the person one becomes. After all, how many of us still have scars from third degree burns that all originated from very small sparks from when we were young?
So, we're a week into the new year and we're supposed to be getting back into routine after the holidays. But, we find ourselves with snowdays and sickdays and everyone is getting cabin fever and I look over the fence where the grass always appears greener and reckon that an ordinary day would be quite lovely right about now.
Finally it's Friday, after the blizzard has blasted on and the stomach bug has run its course and it looks like the house needs special attention. We're all tackling the wreckage when the forest is set on fire. Back-up may need to be called in soon for I'm not sure how much longer this fire-fighter is going to last. I charge in, douse the flames and lead my son by the hand and sit with him for a spell, let him cool.
The silence hangs for a minute and I look into his eyes, while I pray for wisdom and wait for the right words to come. I slice into the hushed mood, tell him that he needs a shield for his tongue. He looks curiously at me like I just spoke in another tongue. I pause, look around and see his foam shield that's sitting right there beside me. I paint this picture that our words can hurl daggers that hurt and our mouths need shields on them so that we don't hurt those around us with our words. I tell him that even David asked the Lord to set a guard over his mouth. David loved God, but still needed God's help for him to keep watch over the door of his lips. And James said that although our tongue is only a small member, it can do great damage.
"And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness.
The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body,
setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell."
We decide he needs to bite his tongue. That way he can feel the pain he's about to inflict. For it's pretty hard to talk when you are clamping down on your tongue.
And by Sunday, when we're all in the van on the way home from church and the quarters are tight and tummies are rumbling and somehow when you're hungry words don't drip like honey and the sparks start to fly, the three year old, who is onto us, pipes up:
"Bite you' tongue."