“The Stairs Have Ears”
~ Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. (Titus 2: 7-8) ~
Exhausted from maintaining the house in some semblance of order, a long week at work and restless children who had been confined to the indoors due to frigid weather, my wife and I retreated to the living room on Friday night. Downtime is what we both craved, despite having a ton of other tasks still to accomplish. We don’t spend a lot of time watching television, but we do enjoy Master Chef, one of the few shows upon which we can agree. I was not in the greatest of moods and, as a result, found myself making some blunt negative comments about the contestants on the show – mocking their cooking skills, criticizing their efforts and attacking their attitudes. About halfway through, my wife paused the show, went upstairs to get a snack, and found Simon on the staircase. It was an hour past his bedtime and we had no idea how long he had been sitting there listening to us. While we were sending him back upstairs to his bed, I couldn’t help but think about what he had overheard. I began to review the negative comments and satirical remarks I had made. While nothing I had said was obscene or vulgar, I had made some comments that I would not have wanted Simon to hear, or anyone else for that matter.
A parent is a child’s first role model. It is our duty as primary caregivers to demonstrate appropriate patterns of behaviour and model proper morals that will hopefully be the foundation for their value system later on. Paul, in Titus 2, lays out a system of ethics that Christians, young and old, should follow. Verses 7 and 8 are particularly applicable to this situation. While I still don’t know what Simon heard or didn’t hear me say, I know I did not show integrity, dignity or sound speech. All of the teaching and instruction that I had been doing with my son was open to criticism. Simon knows what inappropriate behaviour is and could have recognized the hypocrisy in my speech. After all, how many times have I reminded him not to criticize others or be demeaning in tone or ridicule another’s efforts? Thank God for grace, because I will never be perfect, yet, with His help and guidance, I can do better. The question is, “How”? Using Christ as a role model, Paul provides us with the answer – integrity, dignity and sound speech.
1. Integrity – Christ practiced what he preached. I should do the same; when I don’t measure up, I need to own up and make it right.
2. Dignity – Christ treated everyone with value and worth regardless of who they were or what they might have done. God shows me His love and forgiveness when I don’t deserve it and I need to do the same for others.
3. Sound Speech – Christ never used language to hurt others. He spoke to show them their sinful ways, encouraging them to repent and turn to a loving Father. I need to think about what I am saying before I say it. My words should build others up, not tear them down.