“Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” – James 1:22
In our last two Couple’s Bible Study posts, we’ve focused on the importance of our words to good communication and the need to control our tongue. This week we begin to look at lessons from God’s Word that will help us communicate with our spouses in a way that is loving, gracious, and uplifting—the way God intends it to be.
We can learn all God’s Word has to say about marriage and communication, but if we do not put it to work in our marriage, it does us no good.
A Life Example
Recently I had a pretty painful example of this in my own life. My sweet wife, Sabra, edits everything we put on this website. And while editing one of my articles, she noticed a problem and brought it to my attention to see if I wanted to make a change. She was right, but in my heart and mind the flesh took over. How dare she criticize me?
I said something to the effect that if she didn’t like it, she could just change it and put whatever she wanted in its place. And I stormed away. My prideful, arrogant self was working overtime, and Satan must have been having a good laugh. But God, through the Holy Spirit, graciously began working on me.
Was I practicing what I had been writing about the past two weeks? Hardly. Had I been reading God’s Word, praying, and putting it into practice? Well…I read the Bible and prayed every morning. But had I really been listening and talking to God or just going through a routine? I had to admit the latter had been true.
Then the Holy Spirit brought to my mind 1 Peter 5:8: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” He found someone alright–ME! The attack had come, and I was not prepared. I let the flesh take over. My words—what I communicated—had been unkind and harmful, not loving and caring.
I also remembered Luke 6:45: “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” My heart was unprepared and, therefore, open to evil and ungodly words.
After praying, I went to Sabra and asked her forgiveness. And thankfully she forgave me.
I have since recommitted to the Lord to pray and study His Word daily, not to check something off my list, but to strengthen my relationship with Him. Prayerfully, with His gracious help, I will not become such easy prey for Satan again soon.
What the Bible Says
Good Communication Takes Preparation
To communicate well—in a loving, godly way—we must prepare our hearts. Just as in my situation above, when we are not prepared, the flesh will take over and we’ll wind up saying or doing something we’ll regret.
Perhaps the most important tool found in God’s Word for preparing our hearts is prayer. Some might argue that God’s Word itself holds that distinction. And, of course, the Scripture is vitally important. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” But even this is a part of prayer, for the psalmist asks God to help him live “according to your word” (v. 9). And in verse 10 prays, “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” Prayer, therefore, is essential to understand and live according to God’s Word.
Paul ends his letter to the church at Ephesus by calling us to put on God’s complete set of armor so we can stand firm in our faith—which includes faithfulness in our marriages. He tells us to, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). The Word of God is certainly vital in living a godly life.
But then Paul tells us to: “…pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians 6:18-19).
Paul realized, as we must, God’s Word and prayer are inseparable.
Good Communication Takes Practice
To communicate well, we must know and live out the Word. We can memorize Scripture from the first word of Genesis to the last word of Revelation, but if we do not put it into practice, it does no good.
James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” That’s pretty clear.
And prayer gives us the power of God through the Holy Spirit to put His Word into action.
We know it is God’s will for us to live according to His Word. And here is a great promise of prayer: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15).
We can’t ask for just anything and expect the Lord to give it to us. But communication with our spouses that shows love, grace, and care—this is His will. And when we ask for the Lord’s help to communicate this way, we can be sure our loving, caring, gracious Father will answer this prayer and give us the power to speak and act with loving grace.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Think of a recent time when you spoke to your spouse in an unloving, harmful way. What was the situation? What could or should you have done differently?
- Do you spend time with the Lord every day–reading His Word and praying? If you do, are you really seeking to grow closer to Him or are you just checking a task off your to-do list?
Applying This to Your Life
- Prepare your heart by spending time each day alone with the Lord–reading His Word, seeking His will, and praying for help to communicate love and grace to your spouse (and everyone).
- When you see something in God’s Word that you need to do…
– Make the decision to do it.
– Work out a plan to put it into practice.
– Share your plan with your spouse and ask him/her to help hold you accountable.
– Pray–ask the Lord to give you success in following through.
– Put the plan into practice–over and over again.
Constant communication with God—through reading His Word and prayer—allows us to become more like Him. And as we do so, our communication with our spouses will reflect His love and grace.
One way to improve your communication with each other is to have a weekly time for coming together as a couple to share what’s going on in your life. We like to call this time Couple Connect. It can be a powerful tool to help you grow closer and strengthen your marriage. Read all about it here.
May the Lord bless you in all His wonderful ways,
For other posts in this series, Communication in Marriage, here are the links…
Part 1–Words Matter
Part 2–A Key Passage
Part 4–6 Essential Steps to Communicate God’s Way
Part 5–4 Ways of Relating to Each Other
Scripture quotations marked (NASB) taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org