Friends, I present to you another collection of quotes from Sister White, this time on the power of speech. I encourage you to read through these quotes carefully and prayerfully because this is a largely neglected subject. This is undoubtedly why Sister White wrote on the subject so often. It may be even more important now than it was then, thanks to the prevalence of text-based communication today. This, combined with truly listening to one another, would surely bring about great changes in us and in our work.
The Adventist Home, Chapter 71: Speech
The Voice Is a Talent.
The voice is an entrusted talent, and it should be used to help and encourage and strengthen our fellow men. If parents will love God and keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment, their language will not savor of sickly sentimentalism. It will be of a sound, pure, edifying character. Whether they are at home or abroad, their words will be well chosen. They will descend to no cheapness.
Manuscript 36, 1899
Every Word Has an Influence
Every word spoken by fathers and mothers has its influence over the children, for good or for evil. If the parents speak passionately, if they show the spirit shown by the children of this world, God counts them as the children of this world, not as His sons and daughters.
Manuscript 100, 1902
A word spoken in due season may be as good seed in youthful minds and may result in leading little feet in the right path. But a wrong word may lead their feet in the path of ruin.
Review and Herald, 6/24/1890
Angels hear the words that are spoken in the home. Therefore, never scold; but let the influence of your words be such that it will ascend to heaven as fragrant incense.
Letter 10, 1912
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. If you are firm with your children, they may think that you do not love them. This you may expect, but never manifest harshness. Justice and mercy must clasp hands; there must be no wavering or impulsive movements.
Review and Herald, 3/30/1897
Language to Be an Outward Expression of Inward Grace
The chief requisite of language is that it be pure and kind and true—“the outward expression of an inward grace.” . . . The best school for this language study is the home.
Kind words are as dew and gentle showers to the soul. The Scripture says of Christ that grace was poured into His lips, that He might “know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.” And the Lord bids us, “Let your speech be alway with grace,” “that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Voice Culture Should Be Given in the Home
Instruction in vocal culture should be given in the home circle. Parents should teach their children to speak so plainly that those who are listening can understand every word that is said. They should teach them to read the Bible in clear, distinct utterance, in a way that will honor God. And let not those who kneel round the family altar put their faces in their hands and in their chair when they address God. Let them lift up their heads and, with holy awe and boldness, come to the throne of grace.
Be pure in speech. Cultivate a soft and persuasive, not a harsh and dictatorial, tone of voice. Give the children lessons in voice culture. Train their habits of speech, until no coarse or rough words will come spontaneously from their lips when any trial comes to them.
Voice culture is a subject that has much to do with the health of students. The youth should be taught how to breathe properly and how to read in such a way that no unnatural strain shall come on the throat and lungs, but that the work shall be shared by the abdominal muscles. Speaking from the throat, letting the sound come from the upper part of the vocal organs, impairs the health of these organs and decreases their efficiency. The abdominal muscles are to do the heaviest part of the labor, the throat being used as a channel. Many have died who might have lived had they been taught how to use the voice correctly. The right use of the abdominal muscles in reading and speaking will prove a remedy for many voice and chest difficulties and the means of prolonging life.
The Effect of Harsh, Scolding Words
In a home where harsh, fretful, scolding words are spoken, a child cries much; and upon its tender sensibilities are impressed the marks of unhappiness and discord. Then, mothers, let your countenance be full of sunshine. Smile, if you can, and the infant’s mind and heart will reflect the light of your countenance as the polished plate of an artist portrays the human features. Be sure, mothers, to have an indwelling Christ so that on your child’s plastic mind may be impressed the divine likeness.
Let There Be No Jarring Note
Allow nothing like strife or dissension to come into the home. Speak gently. Never raise your voice to harshness. Keep yourselves calm. Put away faultfinding and all untruthfulness. Tell the children that you want to help them to prepare for a holy heaven, where all is peace, where not one jarring note is heard. Be patient with them in their trials, which may look small to you but which are large to them.
When fathers and mothers are converted, there will be a thorough conversion of their principles of management. Their thoughts will be converted; their tongues will be converted. . . .
There will be no loud, angry talking in the home. The words will be of a character to soothe and bless the hearer. . . . Take all the ugly features out of the voice.
We must subdue a hasty temper and control our words, and in this we shall gain great victories. Unless we control our words and temper, we are slaves to Satan. We are in subjection to him. He leads us captive. All jangling and unpleasant, impatient, fretful words are an offering presented to his satanic majesty. And it is a costly offering, more costly than any sacrifice we can make for God; for it destroys the peace and happiness of whole families, destroys health, and is eventually the cause of forfeiting an eternal life of happiness.
Shall the Words Cause Sunshine or Shadow?
It is important that children and youth should be trained to guard their words and deeds; for their course of action causes sunshine or shadow, not only in their own home, but also with all with whom they come in contact.
Unhappiness is often caused by an unwise use of the talent of speech. The word of God does not authorize anyone to speak harshly, thereby creating disagreeable feelings and unhappiness in the family. The other members of the family lose their respect for the one who speaks thus, when if he would restrain his feelings, he might win the confidence and affection of all.
Pleasant Words to Children; Respectful Words to Parents
Let only pleasant words be spoken by parents to their children, and respectful words by children to their parents. Attention must be given to these things in the home life; for if, in their character building, children form right habits, it will be much easier for them to be taught by God and to be obedient to His requirements.
Shun Vulgarity in Every Form
Fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, do not educate yourselves in the line of vulgarity of action, word, or thought. Coarse sayings, low jests, lack of politeness and true courtesy in the home life, will become as second nature to you and will unfit you for the society of those who are becoming sanctified through the truth. The home is too sacred a place to be polluted by vulgarity, sensuality, recrimination, and scandal. Silence the evil word; put away the unholy thought, for the True Witness weighs every word, sets a value on every action, and declares, “I know thy works.”
Low, cheap, common talk should find no place in the family. When the heart is pure, rich treasures of wisdom will flow forth.
Indulge in no foolish talking in your house. Even very young children will be benefited by “the form of sound words.” But idle and foolish words exchanged between father and mother will lead to the same kind of words among the children; while right, candid, truthful, and serious words will lead to the same in all the household and will lead to right actions also.
The Evils of Angry, Hasty Words
When you speak angry words to your children, you are helping the cause of the enemy of all righteousness. Let every child have a fair chance from babyhood up. The work of teaching should begin in childhood, not accompanied by harshness and fretting, but in kindness and patience; and this instruction should be continued through all their years to manhood and womanhood.
Let every family seek the Lord in earnest prayer for help to do the work of God. Let them overcome the habits of hasty speech and the desire to blame others. Let them study to be kind and courteous in the home, to form habits of thoughtfulness and care.
What harm is wrought in the family circle by the utterance of impatient words, for the impatient utterance of one leads another to retort in the same spirit and manner. Then come words of retaliation, words of self-justification, and it is by such words that a heavy, galling yoke is manufactured for your neck; for all these bitter words will come back in a baleful harvest to your soul.
Hard words beat upon the heart through the ear, awakening to life the worst passions of the soul and tempting men and women to break God’s commandments . . . . Words are as seeds which are planted.
Passionate Words a Species of Swearing
Among the members of many families there is practiced the habit of saying loose, careless things; and the habit of tantalizing, of speaking harsh words, becomes stronger and stronger as it is indulged, and thus many objectionable words are spoken that are after Satan’s order and not after the order of God. . . . Burning words of passion should never be spoken, for in the sight of God and holy angels they are as a species of swearing.
How a Father Lost His Children’s Confidence
My brother, your overbearing words hurt your children. As they advance in years, their tendency to criticize will grow. Faultfinding is corrupting your life and is extending to your wife and to your children. Your children are not encouraged to give you their confidence or to acknowledge their faults, because they know that your stern rebuke is sure to follow. Your words are often as a desolating hail which breaks down tender plants. It is impossible to estimate the harm thus done. Your children practice deception in order to avoid the hard words you speak. They will evade the truth to escape censure and punishment. A hard, cold command will do them no good.
A Suggestive Pledge
It would be well for every man to sign a pledge to speak kindly in his home, to let the law of love rule his speech. Parents, never speak hastily. If your children do wrong, correct them, but let your words be full of tenderness and love. Every time you scold, you lose a precious opportunity of giving a lesson in forbearance and patience. Let love be the most prominent feature in your correction of wrong.
How many families season their daily meals with doubt and questionings! They dissect the characters of their friends and serve them up as a dainty dessert. A precious bit of slander is passed around the board to be commented upon, not only by adults, but by children. In this God is dishonored.
In the home the spirit of criticism and faultfinding should have no place. The peace of the home is too sacred to be marred by this spirit. But how often, when seated at the meal table, the members of the family pass round a dish of criticism, faultfinding, and scandal. Were Christ to come today, would He not find many of the families who profess to be Christians cherishing the spirit of criticism and unkindness? The members of such families are unready to unite with the family above.
Let the conversation at the family board be such as is calculated to leave a fragrant influence on the minds of the children.
Gossip and Talebearing
We think with horror of the cannibal who feasts on the still warm and trembling flesh of his victim; but are the results of even this practice more terrible than are the agony and ruin caused by misrepresenting motive, blackening reputation, dissecting character? Let the children, and the youth as well, learn what God says about these things: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
The spirit of gossip and talebearing is one of Satan’s special agencies to sow discord and strife, to separate friends, and to undermine the faith of many in the truthfulness of our positions.
Sowing Seeds of Distrust Is an Aid to the Enemy
It is natural for human beings to speak sharp words. Those who yield to this inclination open the door for Satan to enter their hearts and to make them quick to remember the mistakes and errors of others. Their failings are dwelt upon, their deficiencies noted, and words are spoken that cause a lack of confidence in one who is doing his best to fulfill his duty as a laborer together with God. Often the seeds of distrust are sown because one thinks that he ought to have been favored but was not.
God calls upon believers to cease finding fault, to cease making hasty, unkind speeches. Parents, let the words that you speak to your children be kind and pleasant, that angels may have your help in drawing them to Christ. A thorough reformation is needed in the home church. Let it begin at once. Let all grumbling and fretting and scolding cease. Those who fret and scold shut out the angels of heaven and open the door to evil angels.
A Plea for Parental Forbearance and Restraint
Parents, when you feel fretful, you should not commit so great a sin as to poison the whole family with this dangerous irritability. At such times set a double watch over yourselves, and resolve in your heart not to offend with your lips, that you will utter only pleasant, cheerful words. Say to yourselves: “I will not mar the happiness of my children by a fretful word.” By thus controlling yourselves, you will grow stronger. Your nervous system will not be so sensitive. You will be strengthened by the principles of right. The consciousness that you are faithfully discharging your duty will strengthen you. Angels of God will smile upon your efforts and help you.
Fathers and mothers, speak kindly to your children; remember how sensitive you are, how little you can bear to be blamed; reflect, and know that your children are like you. That which you cannot bear do not lay upon them. If you cannot bear censure and blame, neither can your children, who are weaker than you and cannot endure as much. Let your pleasant, cheerful words ever be like sunbeams in your family. The fruits of self-control, thoughtfulness, and painstaking on your part will be a hundredfold.
A Time for Silence or Song
Trials will come, it is true, even to those who are fully consecrated. The patience of the most patient will be severely tested. The husband or the wife may utter words that are liable to provoke a hasty reply, but let the one who is spoken to keep silent. In silence there is safety. Often silence is the severest rebuke that could be given to the one who has sinned with his lips.
When they [the children and youth] lose self-control and speak words that are passionate, an attitude of silence is often the best course to pursue, not taking up a line of reproof or argument or condemnation. Repentance will come very soon. The silence that is golden will often do more than all the words that can be uttered.
When others are impatient, fretful, and complaining because self is not subdued, begin to sing some of the songs of Zion. While Christ was working at the carpenter’s bench, others would sometimes surround Him, trying to cause Him to be impatient; but He would begin singing some of the beautiful psalms, and before they realized what they were doing, they had joined with Him in singing, influenced, as it were, by the power of the Holy Spirit which was there.
The Battle for Self-control in Speech
God requires parents, by self-control, by an example of solid character building, to disseminate light within the immediate circle of their own little flock. No trifling, common conversation is to be indulged. God looks into every secret thing of life. By some a constant battle is maintained for self-control. Daily they strive silently and prayerfully against harshness of speech and temper. These strivings may never be appreciated by human beings. They may get no praise from human lips for keeping back the hasty words which sought for utterance. The world will never see these conquests, and if it could, it would only despise the conquerors. But in heaven’s record they are registered as overcomers. There is One who witnesses every secret combat and every silent victory, and He says, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”
If you refuse to storm or fret or scold, the Lord will show you the way through. He will help you to use the talent of speech in such a Christlike way that the precious attributes of patience, comfort, and love will be brought into the home.
Words Are Powerful
God created the world with just the power of His words. He has shared a small portion of that power with us who are created in His image.
Sounds rather important, don’t you think? It surely is! Let us therefore pray for God to give us wisdom that our speech will be a blessing, not a curse.
Image Credit: Pixabay / Ryan McGuire
Also known by his pen name, Malchiel E. Malachi, Ricky first began sharing the Gospel in 2008. His ministry has gone through a number of changes, even being renamed, but there is one thing that hasn’t changed. He is a dedicated student of the Scriptures and Ellen White’s writings and loves to share what he learns online.