A Sand of Praise
“Hey stupid, can’t you do anything right?” “Are you dumb or what?” These are the hurtful words often expressed between immature children who cannot control their anger or young people who have learned the art of “put down.” Ugly words can hurt for a moment, a day, or a lifetime. Perhaps Paul thought of similar children expressions when making his point about the spiritual immaturity he saw in his fellow Christians at Corinth (I Corinthians 13:11, 13:5-6).
Over this last year I completed a study about critical words, specifically those spoken by Jesus. The purpose of the study was to establish a better biblical foundation of criticism. I catalogued every verse in the Gospels where Jesus used criticism. In my final observation, I found very few instances where Jesus actually criticized others. For the most part, Jesus encouraged His people with great words of love and compassion (Matthew 5:2-5). If there were any critical remarks spoken, Jesus reserved them for the critical religious leaders who led the people astray to a work’s salvation and false piety(Luke 11:39-40).
The “hey stupid” words mentioned earlier are reckless children’s words that should never come from a parent. If they do slip out, then I suggest that you quickly retract and cover your ill-spoken criticisms with the penicillin of repentance and encouragement. As a father I tried to make right on every un-called for criticism I meted out to my children. I admit that my most repeated phrase to my son and daughter, aside from “I love you,” was “I am sorry, please forgive me.” I wished I could have held my tongue more as a young father, but I am glad at least that I made things right when they counted.
Both my children are young adults now, and seemingly only remember the wonderful things done and said for them by Myrna and I. Recently both Brodie and Shannon have written some very affirming letters on our birthdays in regards to our parenting. In respect to this article, I will share with you some words Brodie expressed a few years ago. “There is no man that I look up to and revere more than you. I have seen you sacrifice everything for me, money, time, energy, all for me and never once would I ever known that it was a sacrifice. I have seen you humbly apologize to me when I was 99% wrong. I have seen you uncompromisingly hold up truth boldly above all else”. Needless to say these words made my birthday. I encourage you as young parents to establish an “I’m sorry” habit with your children. This is not a statement of weakness, but rather strength (Proverbs 28:13).
In addition to the “I’m sorry” parenting habit, the replacement of criticism with encouragement is another great parenting tool. As parents we are God’s earthly representatives to our children. Therefore, if God calls us all His priests, then our children qualify also and should be spoken of and treated so (Peter 2: 9). If God has gifted us all with special talents in order to fulfill significant ministries, then we must include and prepare our children in this call (I Cor. 12:4-6). If God has thousands of good thoughts reserved for us all each day, then we should at least express half a dozen of these thoughts toward our children each day. Over a lifetime the encouraging things we say to our children should be as numerous as the ocean sand (Psalm 138:17-18).
In your Teachable Moment this week share with your children the value of saying encouraging words to others. Use the Scriptures in this article as a foundation. Since the Presidential elections are only a few months away, run a campaign in your home to see who can gather the most votes? But the only way a vote can be attained is by saying something that is encouraging to another. Record these votes on a chart. Keep a running account, so that the children can sense that these things really count. At the end of the week count them all up, but declare everyone a winner and reward them with something special for their efforts. Conclude your lesson with how much a single comment can change an entire life, just like a single vote can change an election. As an extra, mention the list below where a single vote did change things. These were just political votes; think what could be done with votes of expressed encouragement.
Votes that counted
- In 1645, one vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England
- In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German
- In 1839, one vote elected Marcus Morton governor of Massachusetts
- In 1845, one vote brought Texas into the Union
- In 1868, one vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment
- In 1875, one vote changed France from a monarchy to a republic
- In 1876, one vote gave Rutherford B. Hayes the United States presidency
I Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
I Corinthians 13:5-6 5 love does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
Matthew 5: 2-5 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Luke 11: 39 But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. 40 “You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also?
Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
2 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the Excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
I Cor. 124-6 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
Psalm 139: 17-18 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.