Last week we began a short series entitled, “The Importance of ….” We will look at several things that God tells us in His Word are important so we can have the thriving marriage He desires for us.
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” – Proverbs 16:24
Our first message in the series looked at Scripture–God’s Word to us. This week we will study the importance of our words to our marriage relationship.
We learned last week that our words are impacted by God and His Scripture. So the two go hand-in-hand.
Growing up, my dad would always say to me: “Think before you speak.”
More important, Jesus basically said the same thing in Matthew 15:18-19: “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
In Scripture, the heart refers to the spiritual part of us where our emotions and desires dwell. We might talk about that in terms of the mind today. So Jesus is saying here that everything we say and do will be determined by what we put into our minds.
The Bible constantly warns us about what we say and the impact those words have on others.
God says to us, for example, in Ecclesiastes 10:12-14: “Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips. 13 At the beginning their words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness 14 and fools multiply words.”
Whose words do you think are going to impact your marriage for the better? God answers that for us also in Proverbs 16:24: “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Scripture is clear. Words are powerful. Used in the right way, they bless, encourage and instruct. But used foolishly, they can wound, confuse and destroy.
I have seen this over and over again as I’ve counseled couples. I have also seen this over and over again in my own marriage. My foolish words have brought harm to my sweet wife too many times.
So let’s look to God’s Word to see what He teaches us about our words. This teaching will help us as we talk to one another and will lead to a better marriage. Though the following is not an exhaustive list, it is a good place to begin.
How to Use Your Words Wisely
◊ Pray before you speak.
Here is a verse I try to pray at the beginning of every day: “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). Another good verse to pray regularly is Isaiah 50:4: “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.”
When we pray God’s Word, we can be certain what we pray for is His will. If it is God’s will, we can be sure that He will respond positively to our request. Remember, God desires a good marriage for us even more than we do. And this includes how we speak to each other.
We read in Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” And 1 John 5:14-15 says: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
◊ Make certain you are right with God.
One of the things we must focus on as we pray is our relationship with God. If we are not right with God, we cannot be right with our spouse. Just as if we are not right with our spouse, we cannot be right with God. It’s a vicious downward spiral.
Peter speaks to husbands first in 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” He tells us that there is a way to live with our wives that can clog our prayers and a way to live with them that will help our prayers.
God tells us if we want our prayers not to be hindered we must live with our wives in a certain way. We must make an effort to understand her so that we know her needs. We must realize she is a fellow heir of the grace of life. And this includes honoring her as such, never belittling or demeaning her in any way.
When we husbands live like this with understanding, tender care, and honor, our prayers will not be hindered. But if we do not live like this, God’s Word says our prayers will be hindered. Remember, our wives are God’s daughters. Like any good father, He expects His daughter to be well treated and cared for. He tells us how much He values our wives and expects us to do the same in Proverbs 31:10: “She is worth far more than rubies.”
So concerned is God that Christian husbands live in an understanding and loving way with their wives, that he “interrupts” his relationship with them when they are not doing so. No Christian husband should presume to think that any spiritual good will be accomplished by his life without an effective ministry of prayer. And no husband may expect an effective prayer life unless he lives with his wife “in an understanding way, bestowing honor” on her. To take the time to develop and maintain a good marriage is God’s will; it is serving God; it is a spiritual activity pleasing in his sight.
Peter goes on to write in 1 Peter 3:8-12:
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’
The last part of this passage (in verses 10-12) is a quote from Psalm 34:12-16. It is a word to all of us—both husbands and wives. Notice the call to “repay evil with blessing” (v. 9). We are also told to “keep [our] tongue from evil and [our] lips from deceitful speech” (v. 10).
Once again God has shown us the importance He puts on our words because of the impact they have on our marriage. It all begins with making sure we are right with God first before we speak with our spouse.
Jesus puts it this way in Matthew 7:3-5: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
◊ Practice the Golden Rule.
Jesus gives us a command in the Sermon on the Mount that has come to be known as The Golden Rule. It is found in in Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Do you see how following this rule would impact what we say to our spouses?
Before speaking, we must ask ourselves what we would like our mate to say to us in the situation? Then we can use that as a guide when we talk to them. This will allow us to follow the command in Colossians 4:6: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
◊ Think things through before you speak.
God tells us in Proverbs 15:28-29: “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. 29 The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” To speak righteously, lovingly, and graciously, we must take the time to think before we speak.
It goes back to what my dad tried to teach me. And it is what our heavenly Father is teaching us. It is what He says also in James 1:19: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
Listening much and taking time to think and pray before we speak will keep us from being angry when we do speak. It will lead instead to us following God’s command in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
The bottom line is this: a wise man or wise woman will carefully measure their words. A foolish person says too much and often says it recklessly.
We must understand the impact and power of our words on our marriage. By praying and following these instructions from God’s Word, we will be able to help and not hurt each other by what we say.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
♦ Read this week’s teaching together. Discuss what things stood out to you and how they apply to your marriage.
♦ Go over the four steps discussed that will help you speak words that are helpful and not harmful to your husband or wife. Choose one that you know you need to improve on. Commit to each that you will work on that step this week. Commit to pray for one another in doing this.
♦ Each of you choose a Scripture from this week’s lesson that you will use to help you pray this week. Tell each other what that Scripture is. Use it in your prayer times during the week. Take note of how it impacts your speech this week.
♦ Close your time together in prayer. Pray for God’s help to carry out the commitments you made to Him and to each other. Use the Scripture you chose in #3 above as a prayer.
Next week we will conclude this series by discussing the importance of love to our marriages.
Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,