"Mom, you are making me feel dumb," my son said quietly. I drew in a quick breath and exhaled. My heart was pierced by his words. I looked over at my son. He stood there staring at me, the hurt stretched across his young face. I had just repeated an instruction to him for the third time because the first two times he didn't seem to understand. Yet I didn't simply restate the instruction, my tone was condescending and belittling.
"I'm sorry I spoke to you that way. You are not dumb. Will you forgive me?" I responded, hugging him close.
My son is eight and our conversation was deeply convicting. It was the first time he had ever voiced to me how my speech makes him feel. I wondered how often during his young life that my words and tone have belittled him. It wasn't that long ago that I realized how much I sigh audibly when I am annoyed by something my children do. No doubt, God is at work in me, using my role as a mother to show me my sin.
Why Words Matter
We all have memories embedded deep in our heart of hurtful things people have said to us. James says that "with the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing" (James 3:9–10.) I could read this passage and think, "Well I don't curse anyone, so this doesn't apply to me." But I'd be wrong. While I would never think to call my children names, my very tone and body language can communicate that they are a nuisance, that I am annoyed with them, that they are unimportant, and yes, even dumb.
In the Power of Words and the Wonder of God, Sinclair Ferguson says, "How we use our tongues provides clear evidence of where we are spiritually." Jesus said something similar when he said, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). My responses to my children, whether it is with actual words or even just the tone of my voice, reveal the condition of my heart.
[Read the rest of the article at Desiring God.]