By: Diana Bryant
There’s an old, old saying that goes like this: Little pitchers have big ears. It comes from the 16th century and was used by parents to signal each other that their little children (pitchers) were around. They might overhear something that was not meant for their ears (handles on the pitchers). It’s a rather obscure picture today, but the point is still true that adults should be aware of what they say within the hearing of children.
Many first-time parents have learned that the hard way. When in a very public setting, their children repeat something said in supposed privacy at home. Most of the time it just gets a laugh, but can be more than a little embarrassing, or at the least require some explanation.
Children, both young and old, learn much of their vocabulary and expressions from listening to the grown ups in their lives. Parents, teachers, and grandparents will often hear words they have said, expressions they use, and even their inflections coming from the mouths of their babes.
Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45 tell us that the words that come out of our mouths actually came from our hearts. Do our children hear us gossip when we’re with our friends? Make fun of others? Are we critical of people without considering our audience? Our kids form many of their opinions of other people and shape their reactions to situations from expressions we use, ideas we express, and emotions we display.
A common thing heard by our kids today is an abundance of ways to take the Lord’s name in vain. Taking His name in vain is so much more than just swearing. It has been abbreviated, appears in jokes, and is used so commonly that it loses it meaning and shows no reverence. Besides the obvious commandment, scripture is full of the fact that God’s name is called hallowed, precious, majestic, and glorious. In fact, we teach our children how our heart feels about God by the language they hear us use. Regardless of the words we use to teach them, we teach them even more by the words and expressions we use in their presence.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14).