I heard a foreign language teacher say that a child generally speaks his first language better by the age of six than he will ever speak a second. There is a remarkable window of learning at this stage of life. Children acquire new words at an astounding rate even though they put a humorous twist on what they learn. Parents should be very careful about the dialects they use in front of them.
Why do young people speak with a disrespectful tone to older people? Where did they learn this language? They heard others using it. Their parents may talk this way to each other. Their friends, classmates, and relatives may speak this tongue. They hear it in movies and read it in books and posts on the web. They learn by imitating.
How can innocent little children use profanity and take God’s name in vain? That’s the language they grow up hearing. Their foreign language teacher may be a parent, an uncle, a cousin, or a neighbor. They imitate the world around them.
Why do adults bicker and complain? They learned to whine and quarrel when they were children. That’s how their childish parents talked, and they absorbed this spirit in their formative years. This is also why people who grew up hearing words of gratitude and goodwill don’t understand these complainers. They never learned to speak this language.
Why do people look down on others, needlessly criticize them, and harbor ill will towards them? They often learned this language early in life at home. Parents make a big mistake when they stoop to speak this dialect. Children who learn this language often grow up to be insecure and unable to love others and get along with them.
It is never too late to learn a new language. It takes time and work, but we can talk in a different way if we try. One of these dialects is kindness. A mark of a virtuous woman is that “in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Prov. 31:26). Men need to learn this language as well: “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them” (Col. 3:19). The kind of language parents use with each other is the language their children will speak with their mate.
We need to speak and teach the language of respect. Paul told the young man Timothy, “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father” (I Tim. 5:1). Husbands are to honor their wives and wives are to reverence their husbands (I Pet. 3:7; Eph. 5:33). Our world isfull of disrespect. It is up to us to teach this new language to them.
Christians speak in a language that is foreign to many. We use clean speech, not obscene and dirty words. We follow Paul’s counsel: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Eph. 4:29). We talk about God, but not like others who curse and take His name in vain. Instead of complaining, we speak the language of thanksgiving. We are careful not just about what we say but how we say it because our tone of voice can completely alter a sentence.
People pay good money to learn a foreign language. The Christian language is free, and it is the universal language of the kingdom of God. Regardless of what tongue we learned before, when we are born into the kingdom, we must learn to speak the language of Christ our Lord.