"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4 NIV)
"Mommy, please don't come at me with bad words - because they will get in me!" The tender young child who uttered these words of wisdom could just as easily have said the same thing to a Daddy. One local school teacher has the indescribable joy of working as a teacher of our young children in the community. One of the parents told how her child had shamed her when she was using some bad language to make a strong point about the child's misbehavior.
Recently I overheard someone complain that they were not able to retrieve and print out a document that they knew for sure was in their computer - because they put it there. It was later found out that the missing document had been misfiled. Computers store what we put in them or when we knowingly or unknowingly allow someone else to leave their information on our digital memory. The computer doesn't wake up one morning with some evil intent to make our day miserable - as credible as that may seem.
The God-given minds of young children are far superior to sophisticated and complex electronic computing devices. Children are able to store vast amounts of knowledge that they accumulate through listening to adults like parents and teachers, other children with whom they study and play with, siblings, television, movies, computer games, and music along with numerous other sights and sounds.
What parent has not had the embarrassing experience of hearing their child blurt out some family secret like perhaps they overheard Mommy and Daddy in a heated exchange about how they were unable to pay this month's rent or mortgage payment? The child innocently goes on to explain that they "will probably have to move since we can't afford to live here anymore."
Discerning parents and grandparents learn very early in a child's development that what goes in the child's brain comes out in the form of words. Good parenting skills include the discipline to use good speech in all everyday situations so that our children will grow up aware not only of their surroundings, but also cognizant of what constitutes good moral behavior. Character development is not something that parents can expect to achieve simply by writing a check each month to some elite private school with a reputation for producing more elite minded adults.
Having been born and raised in the tobacco growing section of North Carolina, my speech patterns sometimes revert back to my childhood upbringing. When we first moved to Cedar Key, I was teaching a Sunday morning Bible class from the Sermon on the Mount. In the New International Version at Matthew 6:25 Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life..." In my old-timey, Tar heel manner of speech, this sounded to some more properly refined ears as "do not wary or do not weary." I suppose the person who brought this to my attention was doing me a favor that no one else had done for 60 years of my life. I tried to laugh along with them as they must have wondered if they had made a good choice for a preacher with such hillbilly sounding speech. That is one time when perhaps it would have been better for me to have just stuck with the King James Version which says, "Take no thought for your life..."
Even though Mom always told the eight of us children not to ever allow anyone to call us "hillbillies," we were influenced to some extent by friends, coaches and a few teachers. Don't misunderstand me, our parents were not ashamed of our cultural background, it was just that they knew the New York and Boston crowd used to love to cast a negative shadow on folks with that recognizable Appalachian and Scotch-Irish way of talking. Thank God for parents who want their children to grow up with opportunities that are not inhibited because of their speech patterns! Just wondering, why is Massachusetts English superior to Carolina English or Texas English?
In some families, cursing is just part of their daily conversations. Some curse words, or as we used to say "cuss words" appear to be reserved for occasions when children have done something that demands a strong reprimand. Incredibly, most television programming that is aired when families are home in the evenings, contains language that seems to be catching on as ordinary parts of American English. The frequent use of the "f" word seems to be unstoppable as musicians, actors and comedians all attempt to add some color to their lines. The color such language adds to our culture is painted vulgar. Such primitive gutter speech does harm to children and families because society fails to use proper words that more precisely describe the message we want to convey to our hearers.
We must not make any mistakes, we are regularly judged by the words we speak. The words that come out of our mouths indicate what is truly in our hearts. People will come to know us by the words we speak. Do we want people to see us as some type of uneducable person with no hope of ever doing or saying anything wholesome? Today is a perfect day to begin using better words that will build up our children, spouses, siblings along with friends and neighbors.
Jesus Christ gave a sobering warning about the consequences of using bad words. "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:36-37 NIV) The Bible is full of good words and thoughts that will vastly improve our lives and the lives of our children. As we commit ourselves to learning more good words, we will commence using more good words and this corner of the globe will be much better off.
You are invited to attend the services of the Church of Christ which meets at the corner of 3rd and E Streets. Please write to me with any questions or comments at P.O. Box 186, Cedar Key, FL 32625 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you may also request to receive the daily WORD OF THE DAY by e-mail. Please visit our web site at www.cedarkeychurchofchrist.com.