Sometimes I wonder if the divorce rate would go down if we were all mute. Really, what gets us in more trouble than our tongues? Sure, our actions speak louder than our words, but our word to action ratio is heavy on the word side. Overall, we are likely hurt our spouse more with our words than with our actions. James 3:8-9 says, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” (ESV) The power of life and death is in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Let’s take this a step further…
The words we speak have the power to bless others tremendously as well as the power to curse them. We tend to take our words for granted; yet, they contain more power than we realize. Matthew 12:36 tells us that we will give an account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word we speak. What is the lesson there? Words matter.
What also matters is intent. When you say a phrase like, “Please pick up your clothes after you change,” it can be done lovingly or without love; it also can be done respectfully or disrespectfully. There is power in your words and there is power in the intent of your words. If you say an innocent phrase, but with the intent to make your spouse, or future spouse, feel unintelligent or childish, then your words are no longer innocent. Remember that man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
More than the actual words you say, your tone of voice is also likely to affect your spouse positively or negatively. The same phrase can mean many different things. The other day, Eric and I were walking and heading toward the same destination, but Eric was walking ahead of me. I was struggling to keep up and I wanted him to slow down. I called out to him and he didn’t hear me. In frustration, I called him again (louder this time) and then proceeded to ask him to slow down… but in a condescending way. Yes, I was frustrated, but that did not give me the right to disrespect my husband. Even if he had been ignoring me on purpose, I am still not given the right by God to disrespect him. If the roles had been reversed, my ignoring Eric would not have given him the right by God to speak to me in an unloving, harsh tone. Ephesians 5 clearly tells men to love their wives as themselves and for wives to respect their husbands as unto the Lord… and yes, I just checked… it’s still there… and no contingency clause included in the passage. ~smile~
When we are boiling mad, it can seem virtually impossible to control our tone of voice; yet, even then, it is possible. Verses such as the ones mentioned above are the last words I want to hear when I’m angry with Eric. I want to stew with my emotions and have someone validate my position. However, God was not being unreasonable or one-sided when he set these directives in place. Regardless of how hard it is to show love and respect with our tone of voice, our marriage flourishes exponentially when we do. Our lives and marriages are benefited by following His guidance. When our marriage is blessed, we become a blessing to the body of Christ as large. Our God is infinite in His great wisdom!
Have you noticed your tone of voice lately? Ask your friends, your boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancée, or spouse how they would characterize your general tone of voice. Do they feel encouraged or deflated by your tone of voice? Do you communicate love or disdain for them? Some personalities may be more easily bent towards sarcasm than others… controlling tone may be a harder struggle for some than others… but, most of us will struggle with this issue at some point of another. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and self-control in this area. Your marriage, and your other relationships, will be greatly blessed when your words are seasoned well (Colossians 4:6).
How does your general tone come across? Do you typically speak words of encouragement or bitterness?