Chloe and Cole were fighting over a stuffed animal one Sunday morning. I don’t know why this particular stuffed animal was so important to the both of them at that particular time, seeing as how between the two of them, they have about 300 different stuffed animals they can take their choice of.
Be that as it may, Chloe came back to my bedroom where I was getting ready for church.
“Daddy, Cole won’t give me...” and she called the name of the stuffed animal.
I often try to defuse certain issues with humor, so I took Chloe’s face in my hands, leaned in close and said as dramatically as I possibly could, “Oh no! What are we going to doooooo?”
Chloe giggled and walked out the door, and I considered the issue properly defused.
Amy, who had heard mine and Chloe’s exchange, came in a minute or so later.
“Do you know what she just did? She went up to Cole and said, ‘Daddy said for you to give the stuffed animal to me.’”
I called Chloe back and asked her if that’s what she had just done. She admitted she had.
“Chloe,” I said, “I didn’t say that. Why would you go and tell your brother that I said something I didn’t?”
She shrugged. “Because I really wanted it.”
I made her give the stuffed animal back to Cole (who had followed the instructions he’d thought had come from me). Then she and I had a serious discussion about the meaning of the phrase, “putting words into my mouth.”
That’s what she had done, after all. She’d told Cole I’d said something I had never actually said. She inappropriately used my name and authority to make Cole do what she wanted.
I don’t like it when people put words in my mouth. I’d imagine our Heavenly Father doesn’t like it, either.
I’ve had more than one encounter with people who have told me God said something he never actually said. Sometimes, it’s inadvertent. Sometimes, it’s purposeful. I have known some people to use God’s name and authority to guilt, scare, intimidate and get their way.
We should not put our words in God’s mouth. Rather, we should allow him to put his words into our mouths (Jeremiah 1:9). Then — and only then — will the words we speak in his name be accurate and fruitful.
The Rev. Parrish Myers is a local minister living in Braselton. His column appears biweekly in Sunday Life and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.