And a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6
Have you learned to be careful what you say around children? Their hearing is remarkable, and their memory is even more astonishing.
I have two friends who are faithful ministers of the Word in another country. They have taught their two boys by example to love the Lord and to be obedient to his teachings. And now they have two little disciples who diligently live out the Gospel in their daily routines.
Matthew is seven years old and is enrolled with his brother in a local public school. One day during the lesson, his teacher became frustrated with one of the students and finally said to him, “You are stupid.” At this, Matthew stood and told the teacher that she had said a bad word when speaking to his friend and that she could no longer be his teacher. I imagine the teacher, already distressed, was further upset when Matthew continued. “You must apologize to this boy and ask his forgiveness for saying this bad word.”
When the teacher saw Matthew’s intensity, she asked the student to forgive her. She said that he was right and then suggested to the class that this event not be repeated to anyone. Of course, that was not to be with a group of second-graders. Matthew went home and told his parents about the disturbance in his classroom, and the following day, my friends went to visit the teacher. They explained that they were entrusting their sons to the teachers for the majority of the day and expected the teachers to be examples. They knew the teacher had asked forgiveness, and they assured her that they, also, had forgiven her but reinforced the importance of her role modeling to all her students.
When I heard the story, and knowing Matthew and his brother as I do, I reflected on my own parenting, even my own personal witness. How bold am I, how bold are my children and grandchildren in standing for truth? Is truth so important that I confront error when I see it or do I tolerate unkindness or bad language or injustice rather than making a scene? And how consistent is my life that my words reinforce what I live out every day? Matthew was respectful when he stood up to denounce what he saw was hurtful and “bad,” but he was also willing to take the consequences for his public witness.
What can, what will I do when faced with abusive language and behavior?
Lord, make me and all my family such lovers of Jesus who is the Truth, that our lives reflect truth and that our mouths respectfully confront error. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.