A statement in The
Signs of the Times, November 11, 1903, speaks of the power of love: “Never treat your
children harshly; for harshness arouses stubbornness and resistance. You will find that they are most easily and
successfully governed by kindness and gentleness.” Kindness and gentleness is what we need. “Love breaks down all barriers, and
gentleness subdues the most stubborn will.
Treat your children as you would wish to be treated were you in their
place. Let there be no scolding, no
loud-voiced, angry commands.” Ibid. Do not be
discouraged, friends. Remember to have
faith and say, “Lord, this is how You have told me to
speak. I am choosing to follow Your counsel. Give me
the grace to speak this way.” Friends,
the Lord will do it. The Lord will
answer your prayer. If you keep praying,
the Lord will keep answering.
also given that the father and mother, in reference to their speech, should not
have verbal disagreements between themselves in the children’s presence. Mrs. White says, “Not a particle of variance
should be shown by parents in the management of their children. Parents are to work together as a unit. There must be no division. But many parents work at cross-purposes, and
thus the children are spoiled by mismanagement.
If parents do not agree, let them absent themselves from the presence of
their children until an understanding can be arrived at.” Review
and Herald, March 30, 1897. Oh friends, if parents would honor this, it
would save so much trouble in the home.
we must have a united front. We must not
have the father saying one thing and the mother saying another. That will destroy harmony, and it will ruin
the child. Having said this, it does not
mean we are to be wishy-washy. When we
say, “No,” it has to mean no, and when we say, “Yes,” it has to mean yes.
loud-voiced commands, or threatenings should never be
heard. Parents should keep the
atmosphere of the home pure and fragrant with kind words, with tender sympathy
and love; but at the same time, they are to be firm and unyielding in
principle.” Ibid. If a principle is involved, we are not to
give way. “If you are firm with your
children [this simply means that when you say, ‘No,’ it means no], they may
think that you do not love them.” They
may think this way for a while, but Mrs. White says, “This you may expect; but
never manifest harshness. Justice and
mercy must clasp hands; there must be no wavering or impulsive movements.” Ibid.
been given on a subject about which you would think
Christians would never need to be counseled, but Ellen White spent considerable
time on this subject. Our words at home
are always to be true. Oh friends, one of
my cherished memories of my own home is that I can never, ever remember either
my father or my mother, at any time, telling me something that was not
true. My parents did not have to explain
to me, as I grew up, that there was not a Santa Claus, because they had never
told me that there was a Santa Claus.
Neither did they have to explain to me that there was no real Donald
Duck or Mickey Mouse or a hundred other things that some children believe. If you tell your children fictitious or
untrue stories or speak anything that is untrue, someday their confidence in
you is going to be weakened, because a child believes everything that their
parents tell them—until they find out their parents do not always tell the
truth. Then they flip the other way, and
they do not believe anything their parents say.
says, “Never let your children have the semblance of an excuse for saying,
Mother does not tell the truth. Father does not tell the truth.” Review
and Herald, April 13, 1897. Children, from their earliest years, should
have confidence that if mommy said it, it is so. If daddy said it, it is so. We often do not realize how our words affect
whether or not our children are going to believe what they hear in Sabbath School or church.
also speaks about criticism. She wrote,
“We should abstain from all evil-speaking and evil-surmising.” Review
and Herald, April 21, 1891. Do you know what evil surmising is? I suppose it is something that every
individual has been tempted to do at some time or another. Have you ever had suspicions about someone or
something—you did not yet have the facts, but things just did not seem right to
you? When this happens, you may have
suspicions, and you may have to watch things develop, but it is dangerous to
talk about your suspicions. This is evil
surmising. You think something is bad;
you do not yet have the facts; you do not yet have the evidence, but it looks
bad. You think there is something awry,
so you start talking about it, which starts all kinds of trouble in homes and
churches and institutions and everywhere else.
“We should abstain from all evil-speaking and evil-surmising. Our children will be in danger of losing all
respect for religion if we indulge in criticism of others.” Ibid.
thought about this so many times. How
would I feel if someone who knew me really well began telling everybody all of
the mistakes I have made? I have made so
many mistakes that if anyone but the Lord knew them all,
I suppose they would think that I am a bad person. I would prefer that all of the mistakes I
have made not be publicized to everybody.
Do you suppose that there are other people who feel the same way? When we are talking about the subject of criticism,
people think that we are talking about something that is not true, but this is
not the case. We can destroy each other
while telling the truth! We can destroy
our neighbors, and in the process, we will destroy our children. Ellen White says that they will lose all
respect for religion.
Respect Those Older
of our children with the elderly has become very painful in America today. Our
young people do not respect older people.
Ellen White wrote: “Teach your children to be kind and courteous to all,
and especially to respect the old. If
you do all that God has given you to do, you will have
no time to criticize your neighbor.” Ibid.
Jesting and Joking
I was once
acquainted with a person who told a lot of jokes. He was one of the funniest persons I ever
knew. When I was with him, I laughed and
laughed and laughed, and everybody else did, too. He was a religious person, but when he would
give a testimony in church, the young people did not give it much account. Our words need to be true.
When I was in
academy, I learned how to tell jokes. I
was very fortunate that about the time I started learning how to tell jokes, I
read some statements in the Spirit of Prophecy stating that if I jested and
joked, I would lose the Holy Spirit.
When I found that out, I had to make a decision whether I was going to be
a jester and a joker and a popular person, or whether I was going to have the
In the same
article, it says, “Instead of indulging in jesting and joking, suppose you
begin to exalt Jesus, talking of his wonderful charms.” Ibid. Oh friends, that is what we need in our
homes. That is what we need in our
churches. We need to be exalting Jesus
and talking of His wonderful charms, the unsearchable riches of Christ.
The Way Jesus Spoke
One of the
main facets of the unsearchable riches of Christ is the way that He spoke. When the people that were sent to arrest
Jesus returned without Him, the rulers and the Pharisees asked, “Why did you
not bring Him?” They said, “Never a man
spoke like this Man.” (John 7:45, 46.)
we would learn to speak in our homes as did Jesus, the Christian religion would
have an irresistible power, a charm over our children. They would go out from home, telling whomever
they meet that the Christian religion is true.
They would know it is true, because they have seen the image of Christ
demonstrated by their father or their mother.
The way we speak at home can mean the salvation of our children. It could be one of the most powerful
Christian influences on our children, if we learn to speak to each other in our
homes like Christ spoke. You know the
children are listening to the way that we as parents speak to each other.
“If you had
good home religion, you would be a bright and shining light, and represent
Christ to a lost world.” Review and Herald, April 21, 1891.
parable of the virgins, five were found wise, and five
foolish. Can it be possible that half of
us will be found without the oil of grace in our lamps?” Ibid. The apostle Paul said that our speech is
always to be with grace. (Colossians 4:6.) “Shall we
come to the marriage feast too late? We
have slept too long; shall we sleep on, and be lost at last? Are there those here who have been sinning
and repenting, sinning and repenting, and will they continue to do so till
Christ shall come?” Ibid.
had some special words of counsel to speak to mothers concerning their
words. These are some of the most
beautiful statements in all of the Spirit of Prophecy, in my opinion, in
relation to speech.
She says, “It
is the heart that needs culture; for it is with the heart-life that women have
to do. . . . The precious,
finer feelings are to be carefully nourished that they may bloom into actions
of goodness, truth, and holiness. . . . The words that are spoken by a mother should
be choice words.” The Signs of the Times, March 23, 1891. God will give
you the power to do it. He will give you
the grace to do it.
should keep herself under perfect control, doing nothing that will arouse in
the child a spirit of defiance. She is
to give no loud-voiced commands. She
will gain much by keeping the voice low and gentle. . . . If she is a wise Christian, she will not
attempt to force the child to submit.
She prays earnestly, and as she prays, she is conscious of a renewal of
spiritual power. She sees that the same
power that is working in her is working also in the child. He becomes more gentle,
more submissive. The battle is
won.” Ibid., April 1, 1903.
Our Child’s Faults
We are not to
mention our children’s faults in the presence of others. “Remember that your child has rights which
should be respected. Be very careful
never to bring against him an unjust charge.
Never punish him [now read this carefully] without giving him an
opportunity to explain. Listen patiently
to his troubles and perplexities. Never
tell others in his hearing of his faults, or his clever sayings or doings. Even in the presence of his brothers and
sisters these things should not be spoken of.”
Ibid., April 23, 1902.
She goes on
to say, “By speaking of his bright words and acts, you encourage
self-confidence. By speaking of his
faults, you humiliate him without softening him. Hatred springs up in his heart against your
course, which he regards as cruel and unjust.”
things we have been studying are the way in which people talk in heaven. They do not speak any unpleasant words
there. There are no loud, angry-voiced
commands there, no angry, passionate words.
They do not utter any unpleasant words there. In fact, a statement from Upward Look, 163, says, “No unpleasant words are spoken in
heaven. There no unkind thoughts are
cherished. There envy, evil surmising,
hatred, and strife find no place.” We
are to learn here how to speak, so we will be able to go to heaven. We are to learn it here, and the place we
learn it, friends, is in our homes.
When I was a
boy, I thought that everybody in the Adventist Church understood this, but I have had cause to wonder. The apostle James says, “He that does not
offend in word is a perfect man.” James 3:2.
I do not know
about you, but I have had to go to many people a number of times in my life and
confess that what I had said was either not so or not right. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and
just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.
Lord wants to cleanse us from our improper speech. He wants to cleanse us from all the things
that we have said in the past to our wives or our husbands or our children that
have been wrong. But He cannot do it if
we do not confess. This is so simple and
basic; I was a minister for a number of years before I realized that there were
many Christians who did not understand this.
sin is not just kneeling down by your bed at night and saying, “Lord, I confess
my sins.” That is not proper confession;
it is not wrong, but Ellen White states, in the chapter “Confession,” in Steps to Christ, that true confession is
specific. Friends, if the Holy Spirit is
speaking to your heart right now and telling you that you have something to
confess to someone about words you have spoken, I want to appeal to you to not
forget it. Write it down right now. Do not let the day go by—maybe you need to
write a letter or make a long-distance telephone call.
If we want to
reform our speech, one of the first steps is to confess what we have spoken
that has injured or damaged someone else or is untrue or is unkind. That is a first step in procuring the kind of
speech we desire in our homes.
need to confess something to your children.
Your child will never turn away from the Christian religion because you
decided to confess your sins, because you decided to say to him or her, “I am
sorry I said or did this to you and I want you to forgive me.” Your child will not turn away from the
Christian religion when you do that.
confess our sins, the Holy Spirit cannot come into our lives and give us the
power that we need to change. “He who
covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes [them]
will have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13. That is talking
about eternal prosperity, not just temporal prosperity.
stand myself in very great need of mercy, do you? I know that if I am going to receive the
mercy of God in my life, I must confess, and then I must forsake. Do you want that experience? Decide right now you are not going to let the
day go by before making whatever confession to whomever you need to make
it. It may take you more than one
When I first
became convicted on this subject, it was as a result of a sermon I listened to
by a retired Adventist minister who said that when he became a Christian, he
had to write 726
letters of confession. I hope that you do not have to write that
many, but I would write however many letters I need to write or call however
many people I need to call, to have a clear conscience.
quoted are literal translation.]
Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie
in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.