Are You Using Your Mouth the Right Way?
A whining epidemic recently swept through our home. I'm not sure if it was due to the fact that we were coming off vacation or if I was too distracted with other things, or we were all just a bit tired and cranky, but somehow we were infected and it was rough. Do you ever survey the current vibe in your house and think, "How did we come to this?"
We have been focusing on the the fruit of the Spirit and when I compared the whining, complaining, fussy words that were coming out of my kids' mouths (and sometimes my mouth too) I found that our speech did little to reflect the fruit of God's presence - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness etc.... So friends, what do we do when we don't know what to do? We pray! "Lord, this is where we are but this is not where we want to be - and I know this type of language is not your will for our life and home. Please, show us how to change!"
In response to my prayer for wisdom, the Lord provided a simple solution - praise.
Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful,
so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
Ephesians 4:29 (MSG)
Ephesians 4:29 clearly defines the type of language that is to be proceeding from our mouths. I sat each of my kids down individually and talked through this verse with them. (We don't usually use paraphrases like The Message with our kids but in this case, I like that the language is very clear.) In light of this instruction from Ephesians, I laid out a simple plan of action:
Step 1: When someone is speaking words that are not good or helpful someone else in the family has permission to gently ask, "Are you using your mouth the right way?" (I even gave my kids permission to respectfully ask me this question.)
Step 2: The person being questioned now has two options - they can refuse to repent of their sin and they can go to their room until they are ready to use their mouths the right way OR they can see the error of their ways and repent by saying "Praise the Lord" and we can all move on with our day.
In our house we like correction/discipline that happens quickly so we can restore fellowship and move on in peace. This simple question and response are working really well because in a short moment we have confrontation, correction, conviction, repentance, and the replacement of unhelpful language with praise.
Kids like to repeat language - have you noticed that? That's why saying "Don't tell Mommy 'no'" generally results in my 2 year old saying "no" again. She is simply repeating the last word I said. The better option is to correct the wrong language AND THEN feed them the script for praise. "Don't say no to Mommy - use your mouth the right way. Say 'Praise the Lord.'" And without fail my 2 year old says, "Praise the Lord." I have actually heard this conversation happening amongst my children when I am not even in the room. It's the best.
Now, of course, a language problem is actually a HEART problem:
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart,
and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.
For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
A conversation about Luke 6:45 ties in well with our discussions on the fruit of the Spirit. The good in our heart is God's Spirit and so we pray and ask that God would multiply His fruit in our hearts so that good treasure will spill out of our mouth.
What about you? Are you using your mouth the right way? If not, repent and praise the Lord.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14