Sticks and Stones and Words

Sticks and Stones and Words
by John Kpikpi
As children, we used to recite this when one of our playmates or siblings said something unkind to us. But it is not actually true! Words can definitely hurt. They can stab like a sword (Proverbs 12:18) and, unlike the sting of a blow from a stick or stone which usually fades, the pain from someone’s negative words can recur for years to come – any time we remember them.
We need to remember this when speaking to our husband or wife. Paul instructs us, “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.” (Ephesians 4:29).
We should use our words to build up our husband or wife and our marriage, not tear them down. In Proverbs we are warned that the tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21a).
Two situations in which we need to guard against saying things which can tear down our husband or wife or chip away at our marriage are when we are joking and when we are angry.
Think twice before you tell a joke involving marriage or make fun of your husband or wife when talking to friends. Be on guard when you are angry and you are tempted to ‘let rip’ with your words. The damage done may take you years to mend.
Afterwards we often excuse ourselves saying, “It was just a joke, I was only joking, I didn’t mean anything by it” or “Sorry, I was angry and spoke without thinking. I didn’t mean it”. Thoughtlessness is not an excuse, however. God holds us accountable for every careless or ‘empty’ word (Matthew 12:36). Furthermore, our words may not have been merely careless – maybe they revealed what was in our heart at that moment. At that moment, we did mean it, actually. good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45)
Getting our hearts full of the right things will protect us from saying destructive things which we will later regret – even when our guard is down in the heat of an argument. How can we load our hearts with what is good?
1. Be filled with the Spirit of God. If we walk by the Spirit, keeping in step with the Spirit, we can expect the fruit of the Spirit to characterize every part of us, including our words. (Galatians 5:16-26).
2. Study God’s word and ‘hide it’ in your heart (Psalm 119:11). God’s word has power to renew our thinking and transform us (change the way we think, speak and act) – see Romans 12:2. As we feed on God’s word, for example, we will begin to appreciate the true value of what God has given us in our husband or wife. He or she is fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image – just as you are – and so has infinite value. Moreover, he or she belongs to God and God expects us to take very great care of this priceless person He has entrusted to us. Husbands, you are to lay down your life for your wife, as Jesus did for the church. Wives, you are to honour and respect your husbands, as the church honours and respects Jesus.
3. Be careful what you watch, listen to and read. If we put garbage in, we can only expect to get garbage out. David said, “I will set before my eyes no vile thing” (Psalm 101:3). Rather, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8).
What lovely thing will you say to your husband or wife today?


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