How to Have a Happier Home
Adapted from Virginia Brandt Berg
What is the greatest weakness in most families? According to Dr. James H. Bossard, a former professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania who spent 40 years probing what he called “neglected areas of family life,” it is the way parents talk in front of their children.
After studying extensive recordings of table talk, he wrote, “I had no idea I would discover a real pattern in the [mealtime] conversation of families. I just wanted to learn what families talked about, but to my amazement 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 carped 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. Without fail, their meals were a round of insults and bickering. 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.” That Teacher was Jesus, and that wisdom is found in Matthew 15:11.
Jesus also said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). If your soul is superficial, egotistical, and mean, all those qualities are going to permeate your words as they flow from your lips. But if the Holy Spirit has control, the words you speak will be filled with divine light, just as Christ is light (John 1:4; 8:12).
Words flowing from a soul filled with God’s Spirit of love will have a magnetic quality that will draw others. When the heart is burning with divine love, you don’t need to try to put pathos or tenderness into your conversation. All your words will have a savor and a power that comes from an inner depth.
Do you want to always speak just the right words at just the right moment in just the right way so that they will have a lasting good effect? That probably seems almost impossible—and it is humanly impossible. But it’s not impossible when you let the Spirit of the living Christ speak through you.
How can this be? How can you be so filled with the Spirit of Christ that He can guide you in all that you say? It can only happen through you taking time with Him, getting filled with His Spirit and His love. You must take time to read His recorded Word, the Bible, and partake of His Spirit by letting Him speak to you personally in prayer and reflection.
But if you don’t do those things, then just when you want and need them most, the right words will not come forth. What will come forth will more likely be shallow, lukewarm, or negative. But if you let Jesus live in you and take time in His presence, soaking up His love and Spirit, “from your innermost being shall flow continuously springs and rivers of living water” (John 7:38 Amplified Bible).
So the root of the problem isn’t actually the tongue, but the heart. Words only convey what’s in the heart. Jesus taught that our words reveal our heart’s character. “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).
There is no way under the sun to change the quality of our words except to change the spirit from which those words flow. There has to be a change of heart.
If you need such a change of heart, begin by praying, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Then 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.
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