Proverbs 18:21(NLT) tells us “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” In my opinion, the heft and impact of this truth is grossly overlooked, particularly by those of us desiring to partner in marriage. Like many of you, I’ve read and heard it many times, and it reminds me continually to play close attention to the words I speak. This verse also reminds me of an incident that occurred when I dated someone in my early twenties. He made it very clear how much he cared for me, and while we were on a date one evening, he asked me how I felt about him. I hadn’t yet learned the economy of words or how to filter them through the love of God. If it came to my mind, often it flew from my lips without careful thought. So, when the young man asked me this question, immediately what came out was “You don’t know how to handle me yet.” Even today, I marvel at how immature a statement that was. I chalk it up to youthful arrogance and ignorance.
Needless to say, Proverbs 18:21 hadn’t been rooted in my mind and heart at all in my twenties. Spiritually preparing for marriage means that when the right question is asked, we don’t have to look back to an “oops!” moment, but we respond with the right answer. It’s an answer motivated from a heart that is ripe with the love of Christ. Preparation means that we need to study scripture several times to make sure we understand it; so that the revelation of it really sinks in.
Although Proverbs 18:21 is a simple and short verse, it packs a powerful punch. Our tongues can be weapons that not only hurt others but block our blessings as well. We sometimes forget how easily offensive our words can be. They have the potential to create things or destroy them. And because as women we tend to be more in touch with our emotions, we are also sometimes better at weaponizing this skill for our own purposes. We must be extremely cautious about this—of letting our emotions guide our tongues towards the business of sowing seeds of anger and destruction.
Just as we have certain characteristics and qualities that are baked in, our male counterparts do as well. They were appointed by God to be protectors and providers for their families, and they are instructed by God in Ephesians 5:25 to love their wives as Christ loves the church. We can see that this is a mix of being very strong on one hand, and very tender on the other. As women of God, we are obligated to handle both with care.
It is not easy for anyone to be vulnerable with their emotions, but we should be able to appreciate that this can be especially challenging for many men. Quite naturally we must be prepared for the reality that when a man makes his heart vulnerable, we must respond with an increased sensitivity in how we use our words. This becomes even more important when there are disagreements in the relationship.
The wisdom of Proverbs 21:19(NLT) says, “It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.” I know the sting of loneliness. It is indeed a desert, and I couldn’t tolerate even a hint of a possibility that my future husband would be better off there than with me. So, over the years, I committed myself to learn to use my words to build and uplift rather than tearing down. I would love to say that there was no cost to growing spiritually in this area, but that wouldn’t be true. There were steep and challenging circumstances I endured. It was all because I failed to heed God’s instruction and to practice wisdom and economy when it comes to my mouth. I knew that I needed to spiritually grow in this area, not just because I wanted to be a Godly wife, but because I wanted to be my best for God and the agenda of His Kingdom.
When our tongues are undisciplined, we’ll find ourselves repeatedly and regretfully asking “Oops! Did I say that?” It’s a question we’ll ask way more than we’d like, because even we are surprised by what comes out of our mouths. We have a responsibility to trade in this habit as we train ourselves to think and speak words that are pleasing to God. The last thing any of us should ever want to do is injure and hurt with our words. Let’s pray for guidance in this area. I encourage you to ask the Lord to teach you to be more sensitive in your speech and conversation. Then you will be poised to speak life into your husband and family, and in so doing, you will partner with the Lord to help preserve the unity and strength of your marriage. ■
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“Oops! Did I Say That?“ written for findchristianman.wordpress.com. Copyright©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.