I was having a conversation with a woman I did not know, and she was telling me how she “teases” her husband with the phrase, “My next husband will mow the lawn without being asked,” or “My next husband will buy me flowers,” and so on. She thought that was hilarious and asked if I “teased” my husband. She was shocked by my answer of, “Never.” After I gave an explanation that there is always some truth in ribbing each other, and we never thought it a good idea to make jokes at our spouse’s expense that would cause even the slightest of animosity towards each other. At the end of our conversation she told me that I should be a
counselor and help other ladies in their marriages. I just laughed.
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and the number one selling, non-chocolate, candy has hit the store shelves – conversation hearts. People have been sharing since the early 1900”s these sweet messages printed on these little hearts, such as; “So Cute,” Be Mine,” Love U,” “Soul Mate,” “You Shine,” and “SWAK.” These hearts were designed to convey a message of love and affection. They complement, edify and just give you the warm fuzzies.
Scriptures warn us that our speech has the power to encourage or destroy (James 3:6-10). We speak the most to those we love the most, therefore, there is greater potential to hurt our loved ones with our words. Despite the great number of Scripture pertaining to training and disciplining our speech, this is an area many of us have greatly failed in. Even cutting words spoken by others have not been a deterrent to bridle our own tongue.
If you are married, then your spouse is the more important earthly relationship, and needs to be cared for and nurtured daily. One simple way to do so is by choosing your words wisely. Communication that is not Christ-like is one of the biggest killers of marriage. What you say matters. Most “jokes” are directed at your spouse’s weaknesses, and cause damage even if they are followed up with something sweet; “You are a jerk, but you are my jerk,” “You’re lazy, but at least you are a good kisser,” “You are not a good cook, but you are pretty/handsome,” “It’s hard to live with you, but I guess I don’t want to live without you.”
The problem with this type of jesting is that the other person will usually focus on the negative, which in turn promotes feelings of insecurity within. Hurtful comments also have the potential to take root and cause resentment. Harsh words can demoralize your spouse and create distance and distrust.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
This word, “corrupt” means unwholesome, foul and abusive. Curse words, derogatory names, and words spoken to purposely cause hurt and damage all fall under the heading of, “corrupt.” In the context of this passage, Paul is describing the process of biblical change (vs. 22-24), so he offers the alternative that we are to put on “that which is good to the use of edifying.” Instead of tearing others down with words that are offensive and insensitive, we are to encourage and build up our listener according to their needs and for their benefit. We can speak with grace and love through the power of the Holy Spirit, and it grieves Him when we get in our flesh instead (vs. 30).
We learn from the parable of the tree and its fruit that our words are an outpouring of our thoughts (Matt. 12:33-37). In order for our words to be edifying, our thoughts need to be under submission to God’s Word (2 Cor. 10:5). Jesus concludes this parable with the warning that “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account,” and then states, “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (vs. 36-37)
Verses 31-32 of Ephesians 4 admonishes us put off sinful vices that originate in our thoughts, but are seen and heard in words and actions. We are then encouraged to be continually kind, tender-hearted and forgiving. That means we are to be gracious and pleasant, considering the needs of the other person over our own. Our kindness flows from a compassionate heart. When we put off sinful attitudes and yield to the Holy Spirit, then our words will be life-giving instead of spirit-squashing.
“If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
All of the ribbing and jesting in our marriage that some have come to take lightly and even normalize by saying, “that’s just how we are,” might want to consider the warning given by Paul as he continues this passage in Ephesians 5:3-4, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, and covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks.” These improprieties are out of character for those who claim to love the Lord.
Paul encourages us to be followers and imitators of God in our conduct and speech. Our life should be a reflection of the love that God has poured over us by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, who willingly and lovingly gave Himself for us. Do your words to your spouse reflect God’s love for you? Are the words that you say something you want your spouse to repeat back to you? If your words were put on a scale, would they be heavier in encouragement and love or unkind and insensitive? Valentine’s day may be the right time to start putting on this new practice of kindly affectionate speech.
Understanding the need for women to seek trusted Biblical counsel rather than suffering in silence, and from her own personal experiences, Kim submitted to the Lord’s leading to become a Biblical counselor. She has a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in Social work (1995), a certification from ACBC (2011), as well as a master’s degree from Maranatha Baptist University in Biblical counseling (2019). She is committed, through counseling, to help women understand the importance of good theology as it relates to all of life’s issues.
Kim has been married and serving alongside her husband at Crosspointe Baptist Church for over 25 years. They have two sons, Bryce and Austyn, who are the delight of Kim’s heart. Now that they have flown the coop, she finds herself with more time to enjoy a cup of coffee, a good book, and long walks and bike rides with her loving husband.