The topic of words and what we say is a hot topic right now. All around the country people are debating on whether or not the words we say should impact what others think of us, our ability to do a job, our trustworthiness, and our general character. Many say it's actions that are the true test of a person and not our words. Others say that words are a more accurate portrayal of a person. God has a bit to say about both of these and and I know that I have plenty to learn about this topic in my own life.
I'm a fairly sarcastic person by nature. It's taken me a bit of training to not always respond to the silly questions of my kids with a quick quip because I think it will be funny. At their young ages they don't get the subtleties of sarcasm and take me at face value. At times I need to ask God to "Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips" (Psalm 141:3) so that I don't say something in jest that that the kids could take in the wrong way. I try to save my playful sarcasm for Micah who can banter back and forth with me.
I want my words to be life giving and encouraging. At all times. Our words reflect what is in our heart and I want my words to reflect the love of Christ who dwells inside me. If I'm saying hurtful or even just less than kind things how can that be a reflection of Christ?
But words are only part of the equation. Our words and actions must line up together.
The world has painted a picture of Christians as full of talk but little action. We claim we love everyone just as Christ did but then we shut out and hurt others that don't line up with our views. How is that Christ like? Christ didn't come to spend time with those exactly like him. He came and spent time with the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the sick, and the poor. Those cast out and alone. The church should not be shutting people out but welcoming them in and showing them the love of Christ. Jesus never accepted any person's sin that he was with but loved on them, forgave them, healed them, and ate with them. His love and goodness drew them to him and helped them change. We need to be doing the same.
Our words and actions are not mutually exclusive but need to work together. Words without actions are empty. If we say we love all people because Christ loves all people then our actions better reflect that.
I've been thinking about how I can make sure my five kids understand that both their words and actions are important and that they need to be mindful of both. One of the very first verses I ever had Parker and Jamison memorize was Matthew 5:16, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." They are learning that the way they act shows others that they belong to God and should always act in a way that reflects who God really is.
On the words side of things they memorized Psalm 34:13, "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies." Do your kids seem to gravitate toward lying? I've had three of them that once they reach about age three start telling little fibs about how a marker ended up all over the wall or where the entire roll of toilet paper went or why their brother is crying. I know the day is coming when the little guys will also fib to us about something they did wrong. We are trying to remind our kids how much the truth matters when they speak and it's the reason why we always tell the (age appropriate) truth to them when they ask questions.
This is one I use for myself but I should start with the kids as well. The grumpy and irritated voice, the short and unhelpful tone, or the downright icky and screaming voice. Never fun to hear out of a kids mouth and I'm guilty as well of letting my words get less than nice when I lose patience. Usually when my kids are hitting a breaking point is when their nastiness comes out. They are frustrated over homework or their "love tank" is getting low. It never helps to get frustrated back so I try to let them take a moment where we can simply sit and talk. I need to build them up according to their needs - love and support!
So ultimately, it's our words and actions that matter. There isn't one that is more important than the other because they should be working together. Our words are a reflection of what is in our heart and our actions should be carrying out what our mouths are saying. If we don't have actions then our words mean nothing. And we can't write off random words that are spoken in jest or supposedly in private because they reflect what is really in our hearts. Both matter and both are extremely important. I want to be a person whose words are always helpful and actions that match my words. And I want to raise my kids (who will eventually become adults) to take responsibility for their words and actions in the same way.
How do you feel about all the words and actions talk going around right now? In what ways do you teach your kids about their words and actions having an impact?
I'm linking this up over at 152 Insights to My Soul for Three Word Wednesday.