I know from my own childhood experiences that a scowl meant the person was displeased. It felt like rejection to me. It would make me want to withdraw inside. I know now as an adult, that in truth, the scowl was not because of me. The scowl was because of what the scowling person was encountering at the time. Conversely, a child will perceive a smile as something good. It makes them want to draw close to the smiling person.
I had a wonderful kindergarten teacher. She was so accepting, and acknowledged what I drew or colored as something good. I remember in seventh grade that I had a scowling math teacher. He berated me from the front of the class, and called me a bump on a log because I didn’t understand something.
Children do not have the capacity to understand when something is directed at them or the person’s negative reactions to their circumstances at the time. Children are literal. They think in concrete terms. It is either black or white. It is good or bad. They haven’t learned about grey areas yet. A child who does not FEEL loved, will perceive it as rejection. An unwanted child, perceived or real, will act out their emotional pain through rebellion.
1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” As an adult we need to discern between our perceptions and reality. We need to communicate what we are thinking rather than assume the other person understands. Only the Lord knows what anyone is thinking. Good communication bridges the gap so that there is heart harmony.
Hebrews 5:14 says, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Jesus spoke in parables. The general crowd did not understand His underlying truths. Mark 4:9 says, “And He said to them, He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” When He was alone with His disciples, He explained the parable in terms that they understood.
We often misjudge a situation because we do not know all the facts. We jump to fleshly conclusions. That creates a seedbed for offenses. Hebrews 12:15 in the J. B. Phillips says, “Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives, for if he does there can very easily spring up in him a bitter spirit which is not only bad in itself but can also poison the lives of many others.”
Let me give you an illustration. Years ago I wanted to get rid of some scraggly plants in my flower bed. I wanted something beautiful and pleasing to my eyes and senses. I started to uproot them. It was CandyTuft. The roots were so invasive. They were intertwined in horrible tangles. That is what happens when we allow a bitter root to take over in our hearts.
Our thoughts become a tangled mess of bitterness and unforgiveness from the harbored offenses. In Acts 8:22-23 Peter addressed Simon’s heart condition. It says, “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Did you catch his words? He was so entangled with sinful thoughts.
Unresolved offenses will take root and contaminate our thoughts which then become words. Caustic or death words crush our spirit. If you have been impacted by negative or demeaning words, you can be free through heart forgiveness. Choosing to forgive will usher in the Lord’s grace to flow over you like cleansing water. Your twisted emotions will begin to untangle, and your thought processes will be freed to please the Lord.
Hosea 14:1 says that we stumble because of our iniquity. Verse 2 says, “Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.” Hebrews 13:15 says, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Our praise is a pleasing sacrifice to Him when we finally lay our heart pain on His altar.