“For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19.)
I have many faults but the one that taunts me the most involves the power of speech. What I say and how I say it affects many. As a teacher, I’ve learned that a kind word to a student or a quick reprimand reverberates through the class. Yet, at home with three teenagers, my words are quick to tear down or not used often enough to build up. Sometimes I talk too much; often I speak without thinking. The power of what we say, our tone, our posture, our hidden meanings create a ripple of what we mean to say.
One night, I entered my daughter’s room and found her crying. Thinking it was boy trouble or girlfriend problems, I sat beside her bed and tried to listen. What I heard was how she had lost a valuable item I had given her the year before and she didn’t want me to yell at her for losing it. She was fearful of the power of my words. She had been carrying this weight around, carefully thinking about how to tell me she lost something, about what my reaction would be. What a lesson for me!
Of course, what I really wanted to do was give her a lecture about keeping her room clean and not losing stuff, but what she wanted to hear was that I continued to love her whether things were right or in turmoil. Listening is a great struggle for me, and I continue to work on how to stop the quick knee-jerk reaction of talking without thinking.
Though forgiveness, redemption, and God’s grace we are able to learn from our mistakes, take heed of our ways, and become better people. While it is human nature to sin, it is divine that God can set us free of our failures.
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32.)