Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Building Up versus Tearing Down

One of the more difficult elements of parenting for me has been teaching my children about the power of the tongue.  I talk frequently with the boys about the effect our words have on others. 
 
They are beginning to understand that their words can either 
 
BUILD SOMEONE UP
 
or
 
TEAR SOMEONE DOWN.
 
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..."
 
The word "build" here means to strengthen or to edify.  To edify another is to be a spiritual benefit to them.
 
Allie is at the age where stacking blocks entertains her simply for the fun of knocking them down.  She will watch and sometimes help me stack them block by block.  Then comes her favorite part, she hits the base block and the entire tower will come tumbling down.  She claps and giggles.  Such fun!
 
Similarly, when we speak encouraging, strengthening words to a person we are building them up word by word.  They feel tall, strong, valued.  Yet, it only takes one good, tear down word for them to come tumbling down.
 
I ask the boys frequently, "Did your words build up or tear down?"
 
Part of walking with Jesus is learning to keep a tight rein on one's tongue.  James 1:26 says that if anyone does not do this "his religion is worthless."  A wild, uncontrolled tongue is a complete spiritual parasite...it destroys us and others from the inside, out.
 
I had one of those proud parenting moments recently with Grayden.  Let me preface the story with the disclaimer that my son is not perfect and I give God ALL the credit when his choices reflect Christ.  Trust me, I take none. 

 A week before Valentines Day, Grayden's preschool teacher sent a letter asking him to make a valentine card for everyone in his class which he would bring and distribute at the Valentine's party.  I encouraged him to make his cards from scratch.  He spent several hours over the course of a few days making cards for each of his preschool friends and teacher, 9 in total.  He decorated them with pictures and stickers.  They were very nice.  But what struck me most was that in each card he had written a sentence stating what he valued about that person.  For example, to his friend Clara he wrote, "You are good at gymnastics."  To his friend Ian he wrote, "You are a good friend." 
 
The day of the party I watched him clutch those cards as we walked into the classroom.  He couldn't have been more excited about giving them to his friends.  I was very proud of him.  Not because he had made and decorated each one but because he had taken the opportunity to "BUILD UP" each of his friends with encouraging words.  I think he is starting to get it.  Or, at least I hope so. 
 
Let's pray the following together over our children:
 
"Lord, help me to teach my children about the power of the tongue.  May they learn to keep a tight rein on it by using words that will build others up rather than tear them down.  Mold their hearts to SEE the good and the gifts in others and give them boldness of tongue to voice those insights." 
 
1 Thessalonians 5:11; James 1:26

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