April 29, 2019
“In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,” said Alfred, Lord Tennyson in his famous 1842 poem Locksley Hall. Well, spring is definitely in the air, and one of the ways we can tell that spring is in the air around our campus is by the increase of conversation and talking which takes place between students. In the spring for instance, some students, who haven’t talked in class all year, begin to talk in the classroom, and not necessarily when we want them to. In the spring I’ve noticed some middle school boys talking to girls, who have never talked to girls before in their life. In the spring, students talk about summer, vacation time, and the beach, and just about anything rather than school. Yes, it’s spring and it affects the way our students talk.
Unfortunately, spring also brings about the consequences of inappropriate talking. We live in a society where “bullying” can take place physically, psychologically, and more common today, online. While most of our students don’t engage in physical or psychological bullying, many of them participate in some form of conversation by cutting remarks and gossiping. The end result of this kind of exchange is similar to the result of “bullying,” and should not be part of the Christian student’s daily walk. Students who have been saying cutting or untrue things about each other are short fused, and tired of the conflict. The student who feels that many of their classmates have been talking about them behind their backs have had enough. We feel it as faculty and as parents too. Teachers are sensitive to a critical parent or student who has been talking about them all year. We all know that the consequences of inappropriate talking are hurt feelings, broken relationships, and even hostility toward others.
In the book of James we read about the power of the tongue. “…..the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life in fire, and is itself set on fire by hell,” James 3:5-6. James says that the tongue, although it is a very small part of the body, can control the whole body. We see the results of that here at school when conflicts arise by what students and adults say to each other.
The power of the tongue can also be a positive force, however. As teachers and parents, we know that with our words we can encourage, we can inspire, we can comfort and enlighten. We can control the atmosphere in our classrooms and in our homes by just changing the tone of our voice. With a quiet voice we can bring calm and stillness, and with sharp stinging tone we can bring a sense of tenseness and anxiety. Our tongue is truly a powerful force in our life.
A lesson we need to understand, about our tongue, for ourselves and to teach to our children, is also found in James. “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you-who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:11-12. James is telling the church that only God is qualified to judge people. When our students, or any of us, criticize, tear down, slander, or speak evil of someone, we are taking the position that we are in a position to judge the other person and have no fault of their own. That is where the conflict always arises, because the other person knows we are not perfect, and we have faults of our own.
We are deceiving ourselves if we think that Jesus can be Lord over our life, without also becoming Lord over our tongue. We need to surrender the control of our tongue to the Lord. We need to faithfully teach to our children, that no one has the right to speak evil of someone else. We need to realize that if our tongue is out of control, we need to seek His forgiveness and allow Him to change the attitude of our heart and our mouth, so they will be pleasing to Him. To do this we begin by confessing the misuse of our tongue and the misappropriation of our words in a harmful way, as sin. I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” Our goal in all we say and the words that we use should be like the Psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, 0 LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14.