Sunday, September 23, 2012

Speech As a Stumbling Block in the Home

One of the hardest and fiercest battles I fight in my life is against my tongue.  It really does seem to be its own entity.  In my mind, I don't want to say some of the things that come out of my mouth, but my tongue does otherwise.  James, in the Bible, describes the tongue's character this way:  "Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts...the tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by man can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison...With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing" (James 3).  I cannot tell you how many times that verse has convicted me.  My tongue is a restless evil!  As a Christ follower, how can I win the battle against it, then??

As God works within me to purify me and make me new each day, Satan is right there, too, fighting against Him.  I can feel Satan's attacks in my life.  Lately, he has used my tongue to attack my family.  God has grown and matured me in many areas, but Satan seems to always know where we are weak. My husband and decided for me to quit my job to stay at home with the sole purpose of discipling our daughter.  As her parents, we are around her the most and our lives are the ones that most need to reflect the life of our Savior.  Recently, God has put my speech in the spotlight.  I have noticed that my tone of voice and the words I speak to my family are not always in love.  When I feel overwhelmed or sense a deadline approaching, I get stressed and start to take it out on my family, complaining about our situation, my daunting task list, or just life in general.  Sometimes my words are "reckless and pierce my family like a sword," as Proverbs 12:18 describes, instead of "bringing healing" to my family.

During my devotion a couple of weeks ago, I was meditating on 2 Corinthians 6:3-7 and God showed me that Satan was using my speech as a stumbling block in our home.  I am supposed to be discipling Nora-Kate and helping to raise her to be a godly woman, but that passage in the Bible tells me that if I put any stumbling block in her way (such as my speech), then our ministry will be discredited.  Wow!  To think that the entire reason for me staying at home could be discredited because of a lack of discipline in the area of my speech really stung.  I am disciplined in so many other areas of my life, why can't I be disciplined to speak in love to my family at all times?

Since then, God and I have had to make some changes in me to help me become more disciplined in that area.  First, God showed me that my speech originates way earlier than the time the words actually form on my tongue; my speech originates in my heart.  Luke 6:45 says that my words are formed "out of the overflow of my heart."  Wow--that's scary.  If I were a stranger and heard the way I spoke at times, especially to my own family, I would think I was a bitter individual.  My speech didn't reflect the love I felt for God or my family.  So, the first thing that had to change was my heart, which meant I had to change my perspective.  Instead of focusing on negative things, I focused on positive things.  Instead of praying more for things/situations I didn't have, I started thanking God for EVERY blessing, small and big.  Instead of focusing on what I see as weaknesses in my husband, I started encouraging him and praising his strengths (he has so many!), and when I started doing that, I started to see what an abundant life God has give me.  Consequently, the joy, love, and happiness God put in my heart started to overflow into my speech and my attitudes.  Praise God!  Our home and conversations are so much more pleasant and are "full of grace and seasoned with salt" (Colossians 4:6) because we are focused on God and his unconditional love, mercy, and grace, and the many blessings He bestows in our lives on a daily basis.  Our God is good and He always provides for His children.  We don't have to be afraid or worry about anything, and I don't have to become ugly when I feel overwhelmed.  I just have to rely on my God and communicate effectively to my family so they can help me though it.

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