10. God's Design for Building Communication
Wisdom from the Word
You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29 (NET)
Understanding God’s Design
Throughout our study, we have studied many marriage principles. They do work better when the husband and wife communicate with one another, and communicate well. There is so much misunderstanding between spouses because of poor communication. I could write a book if I listed all the ways and times that Gary and I had misunderstandings because of poor communication with one another. If you are in a marriage where you do not understand one another very well, you may be able to improve things even if you are the only one to change. All you as the wife can do is adjust yourself and hope that your efforts will impact your husband as well.
You can read books and go to seminars that give practical methods for communicating in a better way. Many of the Biblical references deal more with problems that we have because our tongues get us into trouble.
Read James 3:2-12.
1. How powerful is the tongue according to James? Write down at least one phrase he uses to describe its power.
2. What illustrations from nature does James use to prove that it is not right to praise God with the same tongue that we use to destroy others?
I can remember far too many times when I have gone to church arguing with my husband or mad from an earlier argument; yet, I have sung praises to God and prayed with that same tongue. (I also smile and look so innocent!)
3. Have you been guilty of blessing God and saying hurtful, ugly things to your husband with the same tongue? Repent before God and write down your thoughts to Him.
Again, the book of Proverbs has much to say about this subject. As you read, remember that in Jewish poetry, which includes the book of Proverbs, the lines are in pairs. The second line either reinforces the truth of the first line or gives a contrast, an opposite. Knowing this may help you understand the verses better.
4. Read the following proverbs and write down the principles that you learn about the tongue:
a. Prov. 10:19-21
b. Prov. 11:13
c. Prov. 12:18
d. Prov. 12:25
e. Prov. 16:24
f. Prov. 17:9
g. Prov. 25:11-12
h. Prov. 27:6
i. Prov. 27:15-16
When we disagree with our spouses and become angry, or when they get angry, it is imperative that we handle it correctly. The Bible gives us some great suggestions for dealing with that situation.
5. What do you learn from the following verses? Write down what it says and then how it applies to an angry situation.
a. Prov. 15:1
b. Prov. 15:28
c. Prov. 21:23
d. Eph. 4:1-3
e. Eph. 4:29-32
f. Prov. 18:21
6. How does Matt. 5:21-24 relate to this last verse?
From my personal experience I can tell you what does not work when there is disagreement! An angry response merely increases the problem rather than fixing it. Don’t let me fool you. I get angry at least as much as my husband does at me. A lot depends upon my mood!!! I think we have to be extra cautious when we, as women, know that we are not in the best mood so that we can prevent arguments and not be too touchy about things. We need to know ourselves and our tendencies. Recognize your weaknesses and pray about God’s strength and grace during those times.
It has become quite popular to suggest that verbal abuse is a reason for divorce in the church. The Bible does not give that as an option. Remember that the only situation where Jesus allowed divorce was adultery. We see in 1 Cor. 7:12-16 that an unbelieving husband is allowed to leave if he chooses. The passage in 1 Peter 2:21-25 deals with others’ verbal abuse of Christ as an example to us. We looked at this passage in a previous lesson but need now to consider it as we deal with the tongue.
Read 1 Peter 2:21-25.
(Notice which passage follows these verses.)
7. How did Jesus handle verbal abuse according to these verses? (Write down what the Bible says, not what you think.)
We learn from Jesus that letting others have the final say is not weakness but strength when we are sacrificing ourselves to love. Responding in kind may be quite American, but it is not the example of Christ. We need to wait and deal with their treatment of us when things are not so tense.
8. According to Matt. 5:44, how did Jesus teach us to respond to our enemies who curse us? How did He exemplify this in His own life?
Instead of answering someone, not only in an abusive situation but also in other situations, often we should just listen. Too many times we only hear in part because we are so busy thinking of our retort.
9. What do you learn from the following verses about listening?
a. Ecc.3:1, 7b (The “b” indicates the second part of the verse.)
b. James 1:19
Building Your Marriage with God’s Design
10. How are you doing with your tongue, not just in marriage but in all areas of your life? Rate yourself from 1-10 from the biblical perspective we have studied. Give an explanation of why you placed yourself at that level.
11. Married women: With what one area of communication do you and your husband most struggle? Do any of these verses apply to that problem? Which ones and how can they help?
Steve Smith says that these are the most important words in marriage:
The 6 most important words—I am sorry. I was wrong.
The 5 most important words—You are my best friend.
The 4 most important words—What is your opinion?
The 3 most important words—If you please. (It’s not “I love you.” You show that you love him.)
The 2 most important words—Thank you.
The single most important word—We
12. Married women: Which of these words do you need to build more into your marriage? How can you incorporate these words more into your relationship with your husband?
Just as we have previously discussed, marriage is all about sacrifice and loving someone else more than yourself. It is death to self. That is the principle behind Jesus’ response to those who abused Him. How much do you love your husband and how much do you desire your marriage to be godly? Do you want to be the light of Christ to him? What if he is unsaved or not walking as he should with God? Your loving and gracious response to him in the midst of an ugly or angry situation may be the very sacrifice that will show him who Jesus is. Let go of your personal rights and the desire to be right. Just love him.
13. Write Eph. 4:29, the Wisdom from the Word this week, below and memorize it. If you are single, what situations do you face that need the application of this verse?
Parenting with God’s Design
I found that one of the most difficult tasks in parenting is teaching children to deal with one another, or even friends, when they are angry. Hitting is often the response of choice for young children. (Recently, it seems that many professional athletes have failed to respond any differently than young children who cannot control their emotions!) All of the principles from the verses you read in this lesson apply to children as well. As you know from your own life, answering in silence or with kindness to anger is not natural to us in the flesh. Only by the grace and strength of God can we learn to die to self and respond as Christ would. Our examples before our children will teach them much. Perhaps you need to have them memorize some of the verses that speak to the tongue. Perhaps you need to memorize them with your children!
I have noticed through the years that children who listen to gossip in their homes become gossips themselves. As they learn criticism of others from their parents, they become critical. Our words are heard, even when we are talking on the phone to someone else. Be careful!
14. Share a way that you are incorporating God’s principles for the tongue into your child training.
Wisdom from a Mentor (Margaret)
We came from very different backgrounds. We communicated very well in our family. My parents discussed everything together. My husband came from a family where there was a patriarch. No one discussed anything. His father made all the decisions, and everyone kept their feelings to themselves. When we married, my husband would not communicate. He would say, "We're not going to talk about it now.” There I was, wanting to talk about our problems. It got so bad that we went to a Christian counselor. He said communication was very important in a marriage. He gave us homework and said if we would do the homework, we could save our marriage. He said, “I am prescribing this for you and if you do not do this, it is like not taking medicine when one is ill.”
Our prescription was to sit down for 15 minutes, three times a week with a timer. The first time I would talk for 15 minutes about anything I wanted to say (without him interrupting), and the next time we met he could rebuttal what I said or talk about whatever he wanted to talk about without my interrupting him. We did this for two months and I found out more about my husband than I ever thought and the same for him. We have been communicating ever since.
I would recommend that every couple do this because it prevents arguing and causes you to really think about what the other person is saying. It helped me to really understand why he is the way he is. I thank God for leading me to this wise counselor. He saved our marriage.
Summing It Up
15. Consider all of the verses you read about communication. What verses did you find most convicting personally? Why?
16. What can you do to implement God’s principles in that one area this week? Give specifics and write it in the first person. I will . . . .
17. What is the one lesson you have learned in this course that has most impacted you? Why?
18. Write a personal prayer committing yourself to God’s principles in your marriage and thanking Him for what He has taught you through His Word.
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