[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
For we all stumble and sin in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says [never saying the wrong thing], he is a perfect man [fully developed in character, without serious flaws], able to bridle his whole body and rein in his entire nature [taming his human faults and weaknesses]. — James 3:2 (The Amplified Bible)
The text in James reminds us that WE ALL stumble and sin in many ways and one of those ways is in what we say. Unless one is perfect, which none of us is, we have all said the wrong thing that has hurt and caused pain to the ones we profess to love. The tongue although small can cause destruction. As a small spark can destroy an entire forest so therefore is the power that is in the tongue to bring disastrous results if not tamed and used to build and give life to our loved ones.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” — Proverbs 18:21
We build and give life to our loved ones by the words we say. I see it often in my family how my kids excitedly share news with me; things that happened during the day and if I react positively with encouragement the broad smile that spreads through their faces. Words from a mother; loving words from a father can make all the difference.
We also cause hurt and pain by the words we choose to use to belittle, complain and accuse. There is conflict in any marriage and it can be a good thing for the marriage if the goal for the conflict is to deal with the problem. The issue though with most arguments and fights that errupt in marriages is the fact that the spouses are intentionally fighting each other and not fighting the problem. They see each other as the enemy.
At the beginning you wanted to get married. There was a reason why you chose her. Surely you cannot say you chose to be married with the intention of fighting for the rest of your life. Did you pick an opponent? Is it “a gloves off” for the rest of your life kind of existence? Did you chose someone to love? Someone who is going to love and cherish you or an enemy, a competitor, an opponent to battle against?
In any fight there is a winner and there is a loser. IN ANY FIGHT!! One must win.
So many marriages are like that. They are in a constant battle. Even in war soldiers go into battle armed using every available battle strategy to win.
Fighting with yourself
What kind of fight do you want to win when you are fighting with yourself? God sees a marriage couple as one. You are fighting you.
Unlike a normal fight where there is a winner. The winner rejoices!!!!!!!!!!!!! They are happy. THEY HAVE WON! There is a prize whether it is money or status but there is a prize. There is a winner. That person absolutely feels every emotion of winning: excitement and joy; joy unspeakable sometimes. Trophy, money you name it they have won it. It is theirs. They deserve it. In a marriage when the two fight…who wins?
You might win an argument but who is to say this was a fight in the first place. Have you really won? Will you be happy? Will you have joy and excitement in your life? What trophy have you received? This is your precious spouse, the one who people call you by their name and I am not talking about being called by your spouse’s surname. You are known to be husband to your wife; you are a wife to your husband. That is your truth! When they talk of you they talk of him. When they talk of her they talk of you. You are one. You share a story! You share a journey! You are not on opposing sides with your spouse; you are on the same team. It is not a fight! It is not a competition. It is what it is …a marriage. A covenant! Marriage is a beautiful gift to each of us. As married spouses we are each other’s gifts and we are here to build each other because LOVES BUILDS. Love does not compete. LOVES BUILDS!
You know in a boxing match, in a soccer match or in any other sporting match, the opposing teams study each to win! Sometimes they take months to learn each other’s weaknesses. They study each other’s strengths but more than anything they concentrate on each other’s weaknesses so they will know how to attack.
The senseless arguments that you have with your spouse are not building. Bit by bit, bricklayer by bricklayer you are stripping away, stripping off the beautiful work that you have done. Maybe you have been married for 10, 15,20 or 30 years: with each argument; fight “won” you are stripping away the potential intimacy that you could be focusing on having with your spouse. You are stripping the love foundation of your marriage. You are leaving your marriage unprotected. You are leaving it with cracks. It is similar to taking a hammer and causing crack after crack.
It is time we did some home repairs. All the words of hurt that we have said to one other, especially the ones that were said intentionally to hurt. It is time to do some maintenance. The tongue has the power to bring life and to bring death. Let us purpose that from now on that only words that bring life will be uttered from our mouths.
7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and sea creatures, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8 But no one can tame the human tongue; it is a restless evil [undisciplined, unstable], full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. 10 Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. These things, my brothers, should not be this way [for we have a moral obligation to speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God and profound respect for His precepts]. –James 3:7-10
13 Who among you is wise and intelligent? Let him by his good conduct show his [good] deeds with the gentleness and humility of true wisdom. — James 3:13 — And there is the answer: applying true wisdom. Ask yourself if what you are about to say is building. Somethings are better off left unsaid. Speak the truth in love is what the good book tells us. When you are intentional to hurt and to cause emotional pain you are not practicing love.
Let us bring life with our tongues and purpose to speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God.