What you say and how you say it, matters!

I am known to suffer from a not so rare affliction and although the symptoms have become less severe as I have gotten older, I still have episodes more often than I would like.  It goes a by number of different names, such as “foot in mouth disease” or more accurately, “my mouth is too big for my brain.”  Part of the problem is that I have always thought it was cute or even endearing to be a “wise guy.”  In fact, I still, at my age am always looking for an opening for a clever retort or a weakness in someone who I can exploit with a bit of wit or humor.  Granted, I also enjoy self-deprecating humor, but sometimes it’s just easier to poke fun at others, especially if they don’t know me and won’t see it coming.  I guess it’s why I’ve always enjoyed the humor of comedians like, Don Rickles, whose whole show is about mocking his audience.

So when does this kind of speech go from playful humor to an attack designed to hurt the other person and rob them of some part of their dignity or reputation?  The word that best fits is “slander.”  Slander can take many forms and wear different faces and this is probably why Peter tells us in 1Peter 2:1, “rid yourselves of every kind of slander.”  Slander can come in the form of gossip, which more often than not is spoken without malice or forethought.  Sometimes it can take the form of statements made that are insensitive and repeated based on rumor and not fact.  But the most serious are those that are premeditated and said for the expressed purpose of hurting someone and stealing their reputation.  I’m sure you can think of other examples but no matter what the scenario, it is slander and is wrong. It is the same as saying to the person you are slandering, “I dislike you or even hate you and I want to do you harm.”  It’s no wonder then, that if you choose to engage in slander against your husband or wife the damage may be irreparable. Scripture teaches us that light and darkness can not occupy the same space, as doe’s science, and so it is with slander and love. James states it this way, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers, this should not be…can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?  Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water (James 3: 10-12).”

In Colossians, chapter three, Paul provides a list of “Rules for Christian Households” and follows it in chapter four, verse six with this instruction, “Let your conversation be always filled with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  When we speak to our spouse, or anyone, our first concern should be that no matter what the subject might be, nothing we say should hinder or get in the way of God’s grace being seen through us and in us. In verse five, Paul calls this being wise, which is not the same as being a “wise guy.”  Being wise is what Paul means when he tells us that our conversation should be “seasoned with salt.” We are called to speak the truth as it is found in God’s word, this is by definition sharing the wisdom that only comes from God.  Notice that Paul uses the metaphor of seasoning with salt to enhance the flavor of our conversation. Our words are to be Spiritual food that will both please the senses of the hearer and nourish them with what they need most, which is God’s free gift of grace made available to us through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Just a caution and this has more to do with one’s motives as well as a bit of common sense.  We should refrain from beating our hearers over the head with the bible.  When you are at odds with your spouse, it is neither desirable nor effective to respond to them saying in an accusatory tone, “But the bible says this and you are doing that, what’s the matter with you?”  You know the old saying, “the truth sometimes hurts” but if we can avoid it, we should.  Face it, more than likely if you respond to your spouse in this way you are only doing it to gain advantage in the heat of battle, and it has nothing to do with genuine concern or a loving response. A more effective response is not with your words but with your actions, those that demonstrate the selfless love that Jesus modeled for us when he went to the cross for us, demanding nothing in return and doing so while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:6-8).

 Tool #277  God will grant you a new life, to rebuild your marriage and repair the damage you have done and He has given you a wall of protection.  Praise Him! (Ezra 9:9)

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