According to Dr. James H. Bossard, a former professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the greatest weaknesses in family life is the way parents talk in front of their children. After studying extensive recordings of table talk, he wrote, “I have found that family after family had definite, consistent conversational habits, and that the critical pattern was the most prevalent. These families rarely had a good word to say about anyone. They complained continuously about friends, relatives, neighbors—almost every aspect of their lives, from the lines of people in the supermarket to the stupidity of their bosses.
“This constant negative family atmosphere had a disastrous effect on the children, because a high percentage of [these families’] children were antisocial and unpopular. And this pattern of the family’s hostility many times turned to quarreling amongst themselves. The children absorbed that pattern, and it caused the children trouble.”
“Long ago,” Dr. Bossard continued, “a great Teacher pointed out that what comes out of the mouth is a great deal more important than that which goes in to it.”[See Matthew 15:11.]
Jesus also taught that our words reveal our heart’s character. He said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,”[Matthew 12:34] and “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.”[Matthew 12:35] The way to change the quality of our words is to change the spirit from which those words flow. Words flowing from a soul filled with God’s Spirit of love will have savor and power that comes from their inner depth.
How can you be so filled with the Spirit of Christ that He guides the words you say? It can only happen through you taking time with Him, getting filled with His Spirit and His love. Take time to read His recorded Word in the Bible, and let Him speak to you personally in prayer and reflection.
As you spend time with Jesus, the fountain of all goodness and kindness and gentleness, your relationship with Him will deepen and you’ll soon find your words to be conductors of His Spirit, making you a greater influence for good in the lives of those nearest and dearest to you.