“What!” I called back.
“Could you please get me a drink?” my son responded.
I breathed out a heavy sigh. “I just sat down,” I grumbled in response.
The Power of a Sigh
Yet even as I spoke those words, the Spirit gently prodded my heart, convicting me of my sigh and tone of voice. You see, a sigh speaks volumes. It can roar just as loud in the heart of a child as yelling. It says “You are a burden.” “You aren’t worthy of my time.” My tone of voice also said more than words could. It said, “Leave me alone. You irritate me.”
Ouch. I would never want to say those things to my kids. While I might not verbally say it, my tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions say those things loud and clear.
I know better. I know that such responses are discouraging, belittling, and unkind. I even correct my children for responding to each other with an irritable tone of voice. I remind them almost daily that the Bible tells us to “encourage each one another and build one another up“ (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
But the good news is, while my impatient sighs toward my kids are powerful, God’s word is more powerful still.
The Power of God’s Word to Shape a Heart
Jesus once said that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Proverbs says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (4:23). This means that the words we use, even the tone of voice in which we speak them, reveal what is going on in our hearts. If our hearts are focused on ourselves, our words will be laced with selfishness. Conversely, if our hearts are saturated with God’s word, we will speak his truth. This is why David wrote in Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Hebrews tells us that God’s word is powerful, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (4:12) Jesus said God’s word sanctifies and changes us, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
We need our hearts changed and transformed by the word of God in order to speak words of kindness to others. Sinclair Ferguson wrote about the power of God’s word in shaping our heart and transforming our speech, “As the heart hears with open ears the Word of God again and again, it is renewed and begins to produce a transformed tongue. The principle is this: what comes out of our mouths is more and more determined by what has come out of “the mouth of God.” The sanctification of the tongue is a work in us that is driven by the Word of God coming to us as we hear it and indwelling us as we receive it.” (in The Power of Words and the Wonder of God, Kindle location 989).
I don’t want to sigh, grumble, or speak in irritation to my children. Just as I teach them to do, I too want to encourage and build them up. But I can’t do it without the Spirit and the word of God. When I find myself speaking in exasperated sighs, I need to repent and ask the Spirit to help me. I need to focus my heart on God’s word, soaking myself in his truth. Only then will my sighs of exasperation change to that of a sanctified and transformed tongue.
How about you? Do you struggle with your words, sighs, or tone of voice?
Blessings to your family today,