I have been thinking how much good every one of you might do, if you would only try. Some children are willing to part with some of their little treasures to make others happy. They are quite free to give when it is in their power, but there is something more that they can do. It costs nothing, yet it is more difficult to give than all their treasures. It is kind words. I have been in families where unkind, fretful words cast a shadow upon the whole household, and I have felt the same darkness falling upon me. I have heard older children speak unkindly and fretfully to the younger members of the family, and have watched its effects upon the little ones who possessed happy dispositions, but were soured and spoilt through unkind and fretting words.
How careful an older sister should be of her young brother or sister lest her influence should prove an injury to him or her. Above all things should she exert a happy influence upon the young members of the family. If she tries, she can do much to make home happy, and shed a sunshine in the family.
But it is too often the case that the older children do not realize that their influence tells, and that they are responsible for the influence they exert. I have felt grieved as I have seen them watch almost every move of the little brother or sister, not with a view to help them, to encourage them, to make them happy; but to fret at, complain of, and tease them, until there is stamped upon their countenance a disagreeable, cross expression. This can be removed now if the work is taken hold of cheerfully, patiently and energetically; and happy countenances may be seen, and sunshine be in the dwelling instead of a shadow.
When the sister is tempted to break out into a fretful, fault-finding strain, I would say, Stop, ask yourself what good result will your words produce? Will they make the little brother or sister any better? or will they plant in their little breasts bitter, unhappy feelings? Then say to yourself, I will try to speak just as sweetly and pleasantly as I can. It will act like a charm.
You may not see the good results in a moment, but every time you check this fretful, fault-finding spirit, it will give you grace to stand against the next temptation. Persevere. Don’t be discouraged if you do fail at first. If the tongue goes in its wonted course a few times when you are not on your guard, do not give up the battle. Go to God, and often plead with him for strength. It will be given. Jesus has promised to hear the needy when they cry. Claim the promise; it will be verified. Try in the strength of the Lord to cast a sunshine in the family. There are no shadows in heaven. All is happiness. There will be no fretful ones there; no unhappy looks; no unkind words; but every countenance will be radiant with joy. In heaven there will be an eternal sunshine.