Have you ever experienced the not-so-joyous moment when one of your young children suddenly says a bad word or something inappropriate? The moment is usually surprising and can be quite embarrassing for the parents. “Where did he learn that?” is typically the first reaction, followed by some form of discipline. This happens because children often repeat what they hear. In fact, some kids have a special skill at identifying the most inappropriate things to share at the most inappropriate moment.
CHILDREN ARE LIKE SPONGES
Children are like sponges, soaking up the world around them – the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is part of their developmental process. They push the boundaries of what they can say, learning what is appropriate or not. The best advice for parents faced with an embarrassing moment like the one described is to act as if everything is normal and calmly (and privately) teach the child those words are not appropriate.
WE ARE SPONGES, TOO
This would be a simple problem to deal with if it only happened to little children. I am sure none of us “grown-ups” would repeat any kind of obscenity in public, but as the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” We have the same problem with what we hear and experience as children, but at a very different level. The apostle Paul strongly warns us about this when he says,
Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...
The reason this is such an important warning is because our culture is constantly trying to “conform us to its patterns.” Not all of these patterns are bad. For example, if you live in the southern states of the USA long enough like I have, you will acquire a Southern accent. However, there is tremendous pressure for us to adopt less innocent behaviors and patterns of our contemporary society in areas such as politics, faith, sexuality, and personal responsibility to name a few.
"But be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2). The secret to “not conforming” is not to insulate ourselves from the world, but to discern cultural garbage from that which is wholesome.
TRUTH IN, TRUTH OUT
A while back, I learned an interesting lesson about law enforcement in the area of counterfeit money. The best way for police officers to identify false money is to know every detail of real money. By becoming an expert in the real thing, they can easily identify what is not.
The same is true when we delve into the Word of God. When we renew of our minds with His truth, the false garbage of the world becomes clearly visible and we can reject it before we conform to its patterns.