Friday, March 6, 2009

Big Mouths and Little Ears

For eighteen years, when I got out of bed in the morning and went to work, it was to a place where little hearts and minds looked up to me as "teacher". This was a title I always prized, and yet at times, felt so unworthy of. For with this title came the utmost responsibility to mold young lives not only for life in this world, but also for eternity.

When I stood before my class, it was Jesus I wanted them to see. Yet so many times, I got in the way, or should I say, my big mouth did. I was made humbly aware of the tremendous influence I had on my students, each time I would hear words I'd spoken coming out of their mouths. Words of impatience. Words of condemnation. Words of disappointment. Words of hurt. It was quite obvious I had a big mouth and their little ears were listening!

The Bible tells us the tongue is the smallest member of the body, and yet the hardest to control. How true this is. Yet, knowing that the power of life and death are in the tongue, we so carelessly enter into conversation. We speak first and think second, if we bother to think at all. How we like Paul need to pray our words will always be seasoned with grace and will be edifying to all ears, especially little ones. Like David, our prayer should be that the Lord would set a guard before our mouths.

As Christians, we need to realize our words do not only condition the hearts of those who hear them, but also reveal for all to see, the spiritual condition of our own heart. An unhealthy mouth is merely a symptom of a spiritually unhealthy heart. It was Jesus himself who diagnosed this life-threatening illness in Matthew 12:34, "for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Our words are a reflection of our heart and our only hope is found in a new heart. In Ezekiel 11:19, God promises to take our stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh. A heart that is tender, compassionate and keenly aware of the words that flow forth from it.

As a teacher, and most importantly as a Christian, I need this new heart. I need to sit at the feet of Jesus each day learning anew His language of love. A language that speaks life to the hearer. Words of affirmation. Words of encouragement. Words of dignity and praise. Words of hope.

What were my words really saying to those precious little ones who had been entrusted to my care? What are your words saying to those in your sphere of influence? What kind of heart is touching theirs? If ever in doubt, we need simply to listen to our mouth and it will tell us. Remember, even if our own ears aren't listening to the words we are speaking, we can be certain, plenty of other ears are!

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