Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.
Proverbs 11:12, ESV
Today happens to be my ninth wedding anniversary.
Any good husband will tell you there is a time when you should just keep your mouth shut and listen to your wife.
Honestly, it is advice that can go both ways. Neither partner should be so prideful as to assume you know everything better than the other. Mutual communication benefits both!
Conversely, it is unwise to speak down to the other. Belittling – literally causing someone’s ideas and character to seem small and meaningless – only creates pain and bitterness. It is no longer a partnership but a tyranny, and even more confusing when both are guilty of this. Whoever belittles attempts to control the other, and this means slavery and problems.
It is best to work together and be willing to hear each other out.
And, yes, I may be talking about married couples, but this advice applies to any relationship, even with strangers.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. (NLT)
Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say
Today is my wedding anniversary. Marilyn and I have been married for thirty-four years. During that time I can honestly say that we have had very few fallings out, and harsh words have been a rarity. I am certain that our commitment to honor and respect each other verbally, as well as in other ways, has helped to build the strong marriage we enjoy.
We have tried to raise our five children by example to be careful in their choice of words. For instance, the word stupid is banned in our home. We believe that to call a son, daughter, brother or sister “stupid” is potentially damaging. Regularly tell a person that they are stupid and they will begin to believe the lie.
Taming the Tongue
In James 3:1-11 there is some challenging teaching about taming the tongue. James is in no doubt that the tongue can bring death or life. In verses 5-6 he says:
Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
Yet we struggle to learn from experience, and often forget about the power of the tongue, and the consequences of the words we use. Many years ago I made a flippant comment to the teenage daughter of a friend. We were at the swimming pool and she had a new stripy costume. I casually mentioned that she looked like a bumble bee. It was years before she spoke to me again. Nothing could have prepared me for such a long-term reaction to words spoken foolishly and without thought. Had I commented on how good her new costume looked no damage would have been done.
Be careful little mouth what you say, for death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.