Welcome to post #8 in our series 10 Ways to Raise Spiritually Minded Children. For all posts in the series, please click here.
So this post hits me in the gut and convicts and brings me full circle, back to the gospel. It has to do with our talk. Our speech holds the power of life or death, blessing or curse.
It can steer listeners towards Christ or away from Him. Our speech can help our children develop a Christ-centered world view.
As parents, it is our responsibility to talk about the things of God “when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deut 11:19)
This week I’ve noticed my speech patterns. Truth is, for some time I’ve noticed how much room there is for improvement, heh. But like James 3:8 says, “no man can tame the tongue.” Maybe you’ve discovered it too, that willpower alone is insufficient at controlling our tongues. There is no simple plan or strategy to fix our communication. The mouth speaks from the outflow of the heart and will always pour forth that which is inside us.
This post will not cover all the aspects of the tongue or the heart; rather, I’d like to just give a starting point for bringing health to our speech, based on Colossians 4:6.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (NIV)
I particularly appreciate the word “seasoned” in this verse. It reminds me that most conversations, like most foods, have a certain flavor. The flavor of our conversation can be anxiety. Or anger. Or complaining. Or harshness. Or self effort. Or pride. Or insecurity. Or fear.
Or it can have the flavor of grace. Kindness. Strength. Faith. Hope. Love.
It’s not that we need to go around quoting Bible verses all the time or only engaging in “spiritual” conversations. It’s that when we talk, even about the new find we bought on the cheap, the flavor of our speech can be gracious and full of hope. When we enter a conversation, we bring to the table the aroma of Christ and the hope of the gospel.
So this is what we are instructed to do with our conversation. It sounds great, right? But how do we get there?
I believe it begins with thinking upon grace and the gospel. It means we filter the events at hand through the lens of the gospel BEFORE we open our mouths to speak!
Maybe that’s the whole point. Be slow to speak! I know I need to give myself time to frame my words within the context of the gospel.
For example, this past week I was having a very rushed, hectic morning with the kids. I had to leave early and needed them to quickly get ready so I could get everyone out the door in time. I was frustrated because they were poking and then, one of my daughters spilled her cereal in her lap. She had her blanket in her lap and instead of just standing up and giving me the blanket, she stood up and flung it off. In so doing, soggy cereal went flying ALL OVER the dining area. It splattered on the sofa and surrounding furniture and made a mess everywhere.
I did not have time for such a mess and I was mad. Beyond mad, I was anxious, frustrated, and overwhelmed. I started to vent all those feelings but then stopped because we had just read a portion of Scripture at the table. “In every way make the gospel attractive.” The Lord spoke to my heart and asked what I really wanted: Did I want to feed my flesh and vent? Or did I want to make the gospel attractive by extending grace and showing God’s strength to handle this minor crisis?
The Lord graciously prepared my heart to want the beauty of the gospel more. In that moment, I humbled myself, denied the flesh, asked my children’s forgiveness, and asked the Lord to make the gospel attractive to them. My speech moved from being tense, harsh, and angry to being seasoned with the flavor of grace and the hope of the gospel.
Lord knows I don’t always do things that way… but praise the Lord He gave me a concrete example of what CAN happen in our home. And I like it :)
This Week’s Challenge: Consecrated Conversation
This challenge will really be a lifelong one, but we can get a good start on it this week. Begin by paying attention to what seasons your speech. While we can all give a wide range of flavors, we typically have one certain style or flavor about us. You may want to think through this on your own first, before doing the family activity below.
As a family, talk about your speech flavors. This can potentially be embarrassing or humbling, so to ease the pain ~ grin~ you may want to put different foods on the table for the discussion. Examples would be lemon juice, pretzels, hot sauce, chocolate chips, fresh herbs, whatever things you can think of for a variety of flavors.
As you talk about how each tastes, talk about speech and how our words give certain flavors. Ask what flavor each person’s speech generally is. Then talk about why you tend to talk the way you do. Wrap up by discussing how the HOPE of the gospel can change the way we speak. Practice re-framing your words to a response that is rooted in hope and grace.
This is a lifelong practice but one I look forward to each day. I so want my words to be seasoned with grace and framed with the hope of Jesus! Thank You, God, for such a mighty and beautiful Savior given to us! Amen and amen!