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Living Out the Ninth Commandment and Giving it to Our Children

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Episode Synopsis

Jani and Heidi remind us how truth stabilizes all our relationships and show us practical ways to guide our children into a life of honesty.

Audio Transcript

Welcome to He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund and Heidi Howerton where you can find encouragement for your busy life through God’s renewing mercies.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund and

Heidi Howerton. It’s good to be with you guys, always.

Yes, I loved driving out to the farmhouse today, Heidi. I wish I could describe the scene adequately for our listeners. Oh, it was wonderful as I drove up. Here is James, six year old James, dressed as the Loch Ness Monster.

Do you guys watch Little House on the Prairie at all? We have been watching that as a family probably for the last six months because there’s so many episodes, but there’s one episode where they dress up as the Loch Ness Monster and they scare someone.

Yeah, it was just darling and I played with him a little bit with it and Hannah and Gideon are such sweet kids as well. Heidi, you’re a good mom. I love coming out here and I don’t know if our listeners know but you have to, you know, get those kids settled upstairs so we can record. Thank you for how hard you work to be a part of this podcast.

Thank you, dear friend.

Finishing The Ninth Commandment

Today we’re going to finish up our study of the ninth commandment: You shall not bear false witness. We’ve been talking about lying, honesty, how truth stabilizes relationships and today we want to talk about how to live out this commandment and how to give it to the children in our lives.

This commandment teaches us that God’s will for us is that every word we speak would be solid, trustworthy, real. The Lord wants us to be people who ask ourselves hard questions about what we say and how we represent matters to others. Not only should we keep ourselves from lying but we should ask ourselves, does what I say bring beauty and grace to those who hear. You see, I believe our words should be life-giving, not just honest, nourishing, not just truthful. Proverbs 10 says,

“The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, the lips of the righteous feed many.”

Proverbs 10

You know, dear listener, Heidi and I want our podcasts to do that. We want them to be beautiful, to be worthy of your time, to feed your souls. We ask the Lord to do that before we record each time. But we know not just with our podcast, but in our day to day conversations so often, our speech is not life giving it’s not nourishing. James 3 teaches us the tongue, even though it’s such a small part of our body, reveals how well we can control the rest of our body. That little, tiny muscle in the middle of our mouth shows so much about us. James 3:2,8 say this,

“If a man does not stumble in what he says he is able to bridle his whole body, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

James 3:2,8

Thomas Watson said this,

“The scorpion carries poison in his tail. The slanderer carries poison in his tongue.”

Thomas Watson

Oh, how we need God’s help here.

I think of Edith Schaeffer’s quote, Jani and one of her books on the 10 commandments titled Lifeline. She says this,

“If a report is unnecessary and unkind, and might just be a little exaggerated in our own tongues rendering of it and become more exaggerated in the retelling of it the next time, we better be silent about it. It is my tongue and your tongue that is likened to a bucking horse that is running away with its rider. It is my tongue and your tongue that is likened to the ship tossing on the waves with the rudder not properly in the hands of the expert.”

Edith Schaeffer

Hmm, that’s a good reminder, isn’t it? The Bible speaks to us about guarding our tongues. Proverbs 13:3 says,

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life. He who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”

Proverbs 13:3

Then in the New Testament, Peter says,

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling. But on the contrary, bless. For to this you were called that you may obtain a blessing. For whoever desires to love life and see good days. let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.”

1 Peter 3:8

The Positive of the Ninth Commandment

Hmm. What is the positive of this commandment? Each command implies a promise of grace, what’s the positive of the ninth commandment? Well, as God fulfills his promise of grace in us, our mouths will be filled with his praises and the truth of God. Our tongues will be used to bring forth justice and honor and wisdom and gladness and healing. We’ll feel so grateful in our own justification through Christ that we won’t feel the need to put others down. We’ll feel so cared for by our loving Heavenly Father, that we won’t need to lie to save those extra dollars. We’ll feel so humbled by his saving love for us that we won’t need to exaggerate to save face to family or friends. God’s gracious, heartfelt love, which we talked about in our last podcast, will be the guard over our thoughts and words. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:29,

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as as good for building up as fits the occasion that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Ephesians 4:29

Those are the kind of words we want to come out of our mouth. And as believers, we will live for that day when God’s purposes are all fulfilled and all wrongs are finally righted. On that day, God will bear a true witness about his servants. When friends or family slander, or even abandon you, you remain in good company. Think of Jeremiah and Paul and other heroic people. Remember, God will have the last word about you, and He will bear a true witness about your godly heart and your true worth. So, as Christians we can learn to bear up as we live out this commandment, we can bear up under false accusations. 1 Corinthians 4 puts it this way,

“When reviled, we bless. When persecuted, we endure. When slandered, we entreat.”

1 Corinthians 4

Jesus did. In fact It was false witnesses whose testimony sentenced him to death. Even during his agony on the cross, he didn’t lash out. The Bible says in First Peter 2 that, Jesus entrusted himself to him who judges rightly. Dear listener, you can too. Sometimes it’s not so much what we say, but what others say about us, that really hurts the most. Let’s be women who trust God with all that is said about us, as well as asking him to help us to be truth tellers.

Passing The Ninth Commandment To Our Children

Now let’s talk for just a minute about how we can pass this commandment down to our children. How can we live it out before watching eyes and the world around us?

Don’t Let Gossip Buzz Around Your House

Well, one way, don’t let gossip buzz around your house. Don’t listen to gossip. Don’t engage in it. Don’t share it. Ray and I have a phrase that we’ll say to each other. “Is his name safe in our house behind closed doors? Or is her name safe in our house?” Let no one ever wonder about their name being safe in your house. The Bible says that love covers over an offense.

If no one shares a juicy tidbit of gossip, it will eventually die for lack of repetition. Show your children that in your family, you try to live by the wise advice of “Never about. Always to.” We never talk about someone, we always talk to that person. So first, don’t let gossip buzz around your house.

Make It Easy To Tell The Truth

Secondly, make it as easy as possible for others to tell you the truth, especially young children, I love watching you, Heidi, in this as your children sometimes come down in tears saying, “so and so hit me.” I never hear you run upstairs, “Why did you hit your brother?” You know, anyone will lie to protect themselves. After all, if you ask your child, why did you do something? How are they going to answer that truthfully? The only way they can answer it is a theological answer. Because I’m a sinner. I’m totally depraved. And I’m unable to control the anger I feel in my little heart.

Of course, your child will want to defend himself if you come at them with questions of why did you do it? Or how could you do that? So I love how you do it, and interrupt me here if you want to add some things, but I like how you say, “Well, tell me about this. Let’s talk about this. We can work this out.” Sometimes not being directly reprimanded or disapproved of can open the way for honesty and sincere apologies.

One thing we do in our family too, Jani, about this that we’ve learned from older couples, is we tell the kids if you have something really hard that you need to tell mom and dad, we want you to know that it’s safe, and you’re not going to get punished for it. Even if you have to tell us that you lied. We always say the punishment for lying is going to be more severe. And there won’t be punishment for telling us a really hard, heavy truth. Just trying to create a culture of safety around our home so that when they sin, I pray, I’m not saying I’m doing this perfectly, because I have so many sins as you all know. But I pray that our children will be able to come to us and trust us with those heavy things to say. I even saw a mom once who said, “If you come to me and you tell me something really, really hard we’re going to go out for ice cream afterwards and I want you to know that it’s safe and I love you and we’re going to celebrate that you told mommy that really hard thing that you didn’t want to tell anyone.”

That’s so good. Children need to know that they’re not going to be disciplined for telling the truth, even when the truth represents a sin that they did. Yeah, that’s good. So we want to be careful about gossip. We want to make it as easy as possible for the children in our life to tell us the truth.

Use Good Books

And then third, I encourage you to utilize good literature to teach honesty to your children. There are some great books I found I have you ever heard of the book Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine. It’s a great children’s book. I didn’t bring it today, Heidi, but

It’s a good thing you didn’t, Jani, because I’d just be tempted to snap it up and break one of these commandments we’ve been talking about.

There we go. It’s about a little girl named Sam. She shares a lot of moonshine and she learns in the book why it’s better to tell the truth than moonshine.

What is moonshine?

Stretching the truth, exaggerating.

Oh, I’m over here thinking, is that some type of alcohol?

Oh, yeah, her parents used to call it moonshine, when she would stretch the truth. And they wondered, you know, how well when will I be able to believe her?

I’ll have to look into that sounds like a good one.

Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine. Or I brought this book, The Children’s Book of Virtues by William Bennett. He’s edited it and brought in many different stories. That has some great stories about George Washington and oh, here’s a book that you have Heidi as well on a Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar d’Aulaire. I don’t know how you say their last name. It’s a French name, d’Aulaire. And in this book, children learn why he had the nickname “Honest Abe”. So sometimes it helps to have stories kind of cushion and coach what your words are to your kids.

We Have To Set The Example

Finally, I would say we have to be truth tellers ourselves. When we lie, we must be humble enough as you talked about in our last podcast, Heidi, to confess it and make it right. I have to ask for God’s help here. Set a guard ,Oh Lord, over my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips. As the Psalmist prayed in Psalm 141:3, I pray that often. Let’s do all that we can to let honesty and kindness and love govern our homes and wherever we have any influence over children. And that will help us leave a lasting legacy of truth.

An Activity

Now, if you’re teaching the commandments to your children, I hope you’ve got that big red heart. Get it out and teach your children the ninth commandment, you’ll need your big red heart, you’ll need a marker and you’ll need a quarter or $1 bill or a penny, some coin that has a picture of one of our presidents who’s known for being honest, like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.

And first of all, you’re going to want to review the first eight commandments. I wonder if your kids can say them. by heart. I wonder if you can! Then learn number nine. It’s a short one, and write it on your poster. Remind your child why you have a mirror in the middle of the heart. Do you remember? It’s to remind us that these commandments reflect back to us what the human heart is like and how we can ask God to help us way down deep when we see that we’re breaking the commandments and not pleasing Him. The commandments are a mirror into our lives.

Then, as I suggested, you might want to use good literature to teach honesty to your children. Why? Discuss with your kids why it’s important to be honest, even when it’s hard, and I would suggest taping, if possible, a picture of someone known for honesty near this command. If it’s not George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, maybe it’s someone in your own family. Maybe you’d have a picture of them next to this commandment. I wonder if you have a personal experience that you could share with your child about when it was hard for you to tell the truth. Did you lie? Why? How did you feel? Were there any consequences? Talk about why people, even little people, even children lie.

I wonder if you could discuss with your kids what kind of God we serve, a truth loving God, and how that should affect our speech. You could read together John 14:6 where Jesus says,

“I am the way, the truth and the life.”

John 14:6

Or you could read Proverbs 6:16,

“There are six things that the Lord hates. Seven that are an abomination to him. Haughty eyes, a lying tongue…”

Proverbs 6:16

Hm. It’s important for your child to know that there are things that God says he hates. You might in your home have the rule that you can’t use the word hate.

It’s Gideon that goes, “Mama, I hate bad guys.” I’ll say, “Oh, that’s okay.”

There is a righteous hatred that God exercises, isn’t there? And he does say he a lying tongue. Or you could go to some of the warnings that God gives us about lying. You could turn to Proverbs 19:5, and don’t worry listener these are will all be on our website. And there will be a transcript of this podcast as well where you can find these references. But you could read Proverbs 19:5 which says,

“A false witness will not go unpunished. He who breathes out lies will not escape.”

Proverbs 19:5

Help your children see that a pattern of lying drives them away from the very presence of the God of truth. Even if no one else ever finds out about their lies, God knows and God cares.

As we mentioned before, as a parent or teacher, it’s your responsibility to open the way for a child to tell the truth. What child would not tell a lie to escape certain punishment? Well, except maybe George Washington. But remember to think of how you interact when you suspect your child might have lied. Word your questions very carefully, to give him a way to redeem the situation without having to think up another lie. Do all that you can to see that honesty, kindness and love govern the speech in your spheres of influence in your home, around your dinner table, on your telephone, in casual conversations in your neighborhood, with your child’s teacher, or with your extended family. Your child needs to see that you honor the truth. And you want to be known as a truth teller, even when it’s hard. That’s how you can leave a legacy of loving the ninth commandment and living it out before your kids.

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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