When our son, Gabriel, was 3 years old, he received these beautiful “Eric Carle” stacking/nesting blocks for Christmas. On one side of each block was a colorfully painted number, going from 1 to 10. On the other side was an animal illustration from Eric Carle’s books, embellished with a different texture (such as soft fur or ridged cardboard) for tactile learning. These blocks were well-loved. And, as much as I wanted to keep them forever, they eventually fell apart after many little hands have played with them and many drooling mouths have gnawed on them.
I recall one night I was helping Gabriel stack them, counting along as he carefully placed the next block on top. His face lit up as he saw how high we were able to build the tower, almost taller than he was. When he was about to place the #9 block ever so gently, one-year-old sister Tamara snuck up behind him and with one swing, knocked the whole thing down. As you might guess, he wasn’t too happy about that. He cried in my arms while baby sister looked “innocently” on.
This typical playtime scene really gives us a good picture of how we use our words with one another, both positively and negatively. It takes time, effort, and careful attention to use what we say so that it has a positive effect on our hearers … just like Gabriel’s tower-building. On the flip side, it doesn’t take much to tear down the positives that we have built with just one thoughtless word … just like Tamara’s sudden swing at the stacked blocks.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” We ought to use our words to build others up, to edify, make strong, and encourage. We need to say what is fitting or appropriate for that moment. As much as I want to say everything that is on my mind, I know I need to take the time to edit myself and make sure that what I’m saying is truly needed. We should also make sure that the words that come out of our mouths bestow favor on the hearer. They ought to be a reflection of our gracious God (1 Peter 4:11).
My immediate application of this verse is in my communication towards my children, since I am with them all day. The words I exchange with them are innumerable. How many careless words have been fired from my mouth, aimed directly at my children’s hearts? Far too many. Those darts fly quickly, just like Tamara’s swift arm that toppled Gabriel’s tower down. It takes very little work. On the other hand, words that build up my children will take time and effort. It will require me to listen better to them, to take the time to ask questions, to study them and understand their personalities, and to be in the Word, meditating on it throughout the day. But I have no doubt that the end result will be a sight to behold.
(Photo credit 1: goaliej54)
(Photo credit 2: msaari)