Summary: Shows the importance of encouraging words in the family. This includes things said and unsaid.
Theme: To show the importance of using encouraging words in the family.
Text: James 3:3-6
James here speaks of the power of the tongue. Whereas a small bridle controls a horse and a small rudder controls a ship it is no surprise that a small tongue, a part of the body that is the with of your finger, controls us.
Let me show you this way. I need a volunteer. I need a volunteer who is willing to earn an extra twenty dollars. Hey we all could use twenty dollars. On this plate I have taken the privilege of pouring out this tube of toothpaste. Now all I need is for someone, who is willing to earn this twenty, to put this tooth paste back in the tube. Now you have to keep the tube in its original position. You can’t tear it up.
Well any volunteers. You see it can’t be done. This is a prime example of the words we use. Many times we say things in our family that we can’t take back. Oh we try and we try. We may apologize over and over again but yet we still can’t take everything back. We still can’t change what we said. That is why these words are so important. Just as it is impossible to put the toothpaste back in the tubes it is impossible to “unspeak” words.
David said in Psalms 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” His son Solomon, considered to be the wisest man who ever lived wrote in Proverbs 12:22, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.”
We must not only be careful of the negative things we say but also the thing we don’t say. Dr. Howard Hendricks was counseling a couple in his office one day. The couple had been married for 20 years, but they were considering getting a divorce. Dr. Hendricks asked the husband, “When was the last time you told your wife, ‘I love you.’”. After some thought and nervous agitation he replied, “On my wedding day I told my wife that I loved her, and it stands until I revoke it.”
Let me make something clear. There is a saying going around that says, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all”. It sounds good on paper but the thing we must learn is the words that are not said could hurt just as bad as the words that are said. In other words not only should we avoid speaking words against someone but we should also try to find something good to say. If we could practice this principle in our family it would have an amazing impact on our spouse and on our children. If we could find something positive to say about someone instead of always trying to criticize it will change your attitude and the person you are talking to.
Try it the next time you notice a cashier having a hard time at the grocery store. Compliment them on something. See their attitude change.
Positive words help create a positive climate. I believe that Paul understood this when he wrote in Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
A poem by Dorothy Law Nolte called “Children Learn What They Live” gives us a better idea:
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative.
If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with recognition, he learns it is good to have a goal.
If a child lives with sharing, he learns about generosity.
If a child lives with honesty and fairness, he learns what truth and justice are.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and in those
If a child lives with friendliness, he learns that the world is a nice place in
which to live.
If a child lives with serenity, your child will live with peace of mind.
How much more could this be applied to our families and our marriages?
Have you ever been around someone so negative that when they walk into a room, the lights go dim? They remind me of the wife who was so negative that her husband was bound and determined to show her something she could be positive about. So one day he took her out to a lake to duck-hunt with his new dog. When the ducks flew, he shot one that landed in the middle of the lake. Immediately, his new dog ran out, walking on water, to retrieve the duck. When the dog returned to the shore, the husband turned to his wife and said, “Now what do you think about that?” fully expecting a positive comment. But she replied, “What’s the matter, can’t the dog swim?”