Words have meaning. They carry the power to build up and to tear down; to encourage and to discourage; to bless and to curse. Words are powerful. It's easy for me to get into a habit of complaining or gossiping, using words for destructive purposes. It's also easy for me to join in on a conversation where gossip and pride are most prevalent. The pressure of fitting in and being seen as one of the group can override my best attempts at taming the tongue.
As I was thinking about writing this post the Lord began to show me that this issue, of what I'll call godly speech, is actually something that I need to be learning while I'm single. The Bible after all has much to say about the speech of a wife either directly or indirectly. Let's take a look at some of those verses from the book of Proverbs.
Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
Compare and Contrast
These four examples actually exemplify two types of women. The wife portrayed in the first two verses we'll call the Constant Complainer. It sounds like she quarrels about everything and nags her husband constantly. She probably finds fault with everything he does and is never content. Her words are probably disrespectful and arrogant. It would be better for the husband to live on the roof than to have to listen to her constant complaining. Like a leaky roof in the rainstorm, the complaints just keep on dripping from her lips. Yikes! Who would want to live with that?
The last two verses however are a stark contrast to Ms. Constant Complainer. This next woman in Proverbs 31 practices godly speech. (We'll call her The Woman of Godly Speech since it's easy to remember.) She does good to her husband all the days of her life. That is an indirect connection with her speech. If she does him good all her days then she must speak with gracious, loving and kind
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Words have power even while not in someone's presence.
The woman full of godly speech speaks with wisdom and faithfulness. If she needs to address her husband on something that may be bothering her instead of complaining, faithful instruction is on her tongue. She is wise in her ways and speech. Now this is the kind of woman I would love to not only live with but also become.
Can you imagine The Woman of Godly Speech complain or nag her husband to the point where he wants to live on a rooftop? No way!
Or could you imagine the Constant Complainer give a wise answer? Nope.
You wouldn't imagine the woman of godly speech complaining and you wouldn't imagine the complainer giving wise and faithful instruction. It's just not meant to be that way.
The apostle James puts it so eloquently in his epistle.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Cultivating Godly Speech
I don't know about you, but I'm feeling pretty convicted right now. I'm not even married and yet I find myself using my words for both good and bad. But this isn't the way it should be. How in the world am I going to be able to bless my husband and children if I consistently fail doing this with my mother, father, sister and relatives? I won't. Now is the time to cultivate the fruit of godly speech in life. Now is the time to pray for God's help in this area. That's not to say that if you're already married you can't cultivate this fruit! Of course you can! God can cultivate this at any time in a person's life. My point is that as a single woman you have the privilege of practicing this before you say "I do."
I think I also need to point out though that James also says in verse 8 that "no human being can tame the tongue." This doesn't mean that we throw in the towel before we even start though. It merely means we don't look to ourselves in order to cultivate this type of godly fruit in our liver, but rather we look to Jesus Christ for help and strength. By abiding in Him we can bear fruit. (John 15:4) But it must be through Him that we achieve this lifelong goal. There may be times when we stumble and fail but God is forgiving and merciful. He will help us to persevere even when you stumble or fall.
My hope and prayer is that all women (and men) whether single or married will take this issue to heart. Learning to speak what is good and kind is something we'll need to practice for the rest of our lives, and I have a feeling that it's not going to get any easier once marriage and motherhood comes along. So why not start now?
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