Chapter 4 Thrusts of a Sword

There is one who speaks rashly like thrusts of a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
—Proverbs 12:18


God spoke the entire world into existence. The Lord told us that we would be judged by every word we speak. Yet, the world tells us to speak our minds. Let’s search the Scriptures together to discover what God has to say about the tongue.

The Tongue: Small, Yet Deadly!

Set on fire by hell. “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (James 3:5–6).

No one can tame the tongue. “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?” (James 3:8–11). But thank the Lord that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

The Lord knows. Here is a sobering thought: “Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all” (Ps. 139:4). This should bring about great conviction. We need to watch not only what we say, but also what we think.

We need a muzzle! “I said, ‘I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle’” (Ps. 39:1). Be careful about what you say. You may have great physical strength, but how about the strength required for self-control?

Crushes the spirit. “A soothing tongue is a tree of life but perversion in it crushes the spirit” (Prov. 15:4). Are the words you speak to your wife, your children, or those at your place of work soothing? Ask yourself if you have been crushing the spirit of those you are to protect.

God tells us to choose our words wisely.

Guard your mouth. How many times have you gotten into trouble by the words you have spoken?“The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, but the perverted tongue will be cut out” (Prov. 10:31). “There is one who speaks rashly like thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18).“He who guards his mouth and his tongue guards his soul from trouble” (Prov. 21:23).

What proceeds out of your mouth? This statement is clear. What you say is very important. “For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned” (Matt. 12:37). “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man” (Matt. 15:11). “. . . Put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech . . .” (Col.3:8).

Sweetness of speech. If you have hurt your wife by what you have said or in your attitude toward her, God is faithful to offer a cure. “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Prov. 16:24). “Sweetness of speechincreases persuasiveness” (Prov.16:21).

Righteous lips. Is there anyone who doesn’t appreciate a kind word? “Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and he who speaks right is loved” (Prov. 16:13). “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19).

Have you matured? Or do you still act childishly by saying things that hurt others? One of the biggest lies we learned as children was “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We probably still have not recovered from some of the words that were said to us as children. Have you hurt your wife or your children with your words? “When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things” (1 Cor. 13:11).

God is very specific concerning how we are to give an answer.

A gentle answer. When anger or wrath is directed toward us, God tells us the Christian response we must make in order to glorify Him. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger” (Prov. 15:1).

Ponder how to answer. Do you think before you speak?“The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things” (Prov. 15:28). Do you just pour out evil on other people? If so, Scripture says you have the mouth of the wicked! “By forbearance [a proper facial expression] a ruler may be persuaded and a soft tongue breaks the bone” (Prov. 25:15). (Or “soft answer” in the KJV.)

Folly and shame. Do you halfway listen or cut off the other person before he or she has had a chance to finish speaking or asking you a question?“He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). Give your wife an opportunity to get everything off her chest. Ask her questions so you are sure you understand what she is trying to tell you and why. Is she in need of empathy? Give her a listening and understanding ear. Or, perhaps she needs help discerning something that just “talking it out” will accomplish. Many times your wife doesn’t want you to fix her problems; she just needs understanding and encouragement. This sometimes takes a lot of patience. But, patience is the proof of your love. Are you doing all you can to be patient with your wife? Prove your love for her by being patient and understanding.

Washed with the Word. Do you bless your wife with God’s Word and with your loving, edifying words? If not, then you are not experiencing the blessing of a holy and blameless wife. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:25).

Beware of how much you say.

Many words. When there is a lot of talking and discussing, transgression (a violation of God’s Law) cannot be avoided. “With many words transgression is unavoidable” (Prov. 10:19). As the leader, properly direct lengthy discussions to a conclusion. This does not mean that you are to cut your wife off when it’s her turn, or drop a hurtful “bomb” and then say the matter is finished. Be sure you understand her and make sure she knows you do by giving her a positive and loving response. If you don’t think you agree, tell her you need time to pray about it. Then do just that.

Guards his mouth. Others tell us to speak our minds and to share what we think—but God says: “A man of understanding keeps silent” (Prov. 11:12). And, “One who guards his mouth preserves his life; one who opens it comes to ruin” (Prov. 13:3).

Considered wise. God actually says that we practice wisdom and are considered prudent when we say nothing. “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise. When he closes his lips he is counted as prudent” (Prov. 17:28).

Anything more. “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’anything beyond these is of evil” (Matt. 5:37). Nod your head up and down when your wife is talking to you. She will spend much less time trying to be heard and understood if you keep your eyes and mind on her, rather than watching the TV or reading the paper.

Empty chatter. “Guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter,and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’—which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith” (1 Tim. 6:20). You don’t need to argue your point; just state your decision based on prayer and God’s leading. However, you must resist using your authority to get your own way; your decision must be of the Lord’s leading. When your wife sees that your heart is striving to follow the right way, the Lord’s way, then she will stop trying to control or manipulate you.

We are also instructed to be content and not to grumble.

Do all things . . .“Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Phil. 2:14). Do you find yourself often grumbling about a task before you do it? If it’s something you should be doing, do it and don’t grumble or dispute it! Yet, if you are being “railroaded” into doing something you don’t think you should, don’t do it. Remember the mess it got Adam (and all of us) into. “Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you . . .’” (Gen. 3:1). “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Whatever the circumstances. Are you someone who has to complain about everything that happens to you? You must learn contentment.“Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11). Are you setting a good example for your wife and children? Are you as the head of your household demonstrating to your family how to be content in the midst of trials, or how to be a grumbler and complainer?

Great gain. Godliness and contentment must go hand in hand. “But godliness is actually a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment” (1 Tim. 6:6).

Content? “. . . being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5). Are you satisfied with what you have? Or are you constantly trying to upgrade all your “toys” and possessions?

Do not crush the spirit. Proverbs tells us that our speech can crush our wives’ spirits. “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion (or “obstinance”) in it crushes the spirit” (Prov.15:4).

Is arguing good for marriage?

A dry morsel. Some “experts” say that arguing can actually be good for a marriage. What does God say? “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it, than a house full of feasting with strife” (Prov. 17:1). Strife is defined as a prolonged struggle for power or superiority. There should be no struggle for power or superiority if each one in the family knows his or her role, and each one concentrates on fulfilling that role. Strife comes when these duties are neglected, or when each person is too busy seeing to it that the other person is doing what they should do.

On the subject of quietness—be sure your children are quiet and under your control! It’s not only your wife’s responsibility to keep them quiet; your presence should warrant respect and silence. (See Chapter 14, “Father’s Instructions.”)

Abandon the quarrel. Do you abandon the quarrel, or do you fight until you win? “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out” (Prov. 17:14). Again, you do not need to struggle, argue, or prove yourself to be the head of your home. God has given you the position of leadership. This is not a place of pride or arrogance; your head-ship is to be used to guide, protect, and manage your family wisely under God’s direction.

Any fool will quarrel. “A fool’s lips bring strife, and his mouth calls for blows” (Prov. 18:6). Your wife may even take a swing at you if your words are extremely painful to her. Of course, she is no match. This could then become an abusive situation. Remember, abandon the quarrel before it breaks out! She is wrong for throwing a punch, or maybe even starting the verbal fighting, but you are to be the leader and savior of the body. “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body” (Eph. 5:23). Remember, “. . . any fool will quarrel!” (Prov. 20:3).

Dealt treacherously. “. . . The Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then, to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth” (Mal. 2:14–15).

If you have dealt treacherously with your wife, then God is saying to you that you have not even a remnant of His Spirit! Very sobering. Let’s each take a hard look at ourselves and get right with God and our wives.

Covers his garment with wrong. “‘For I hate divorce,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘and him who covers his garment with wrong,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously’” (Mal. 2:16). Treacherously in the Hebrew translation is defined as “to deal deceitfully or unfaithfully, offend, transgress, or depart.” To cover your garment with wrong is defined as “one who is violent, unjust, cruel, an oppressor.” Many men are in a physical battle or emotional battle with their wives. We have all seen or known women who try to act as tough as men, but are they? Can they ever be? In sports that require strength, can men and women ever compete fairly? Of course not. God gives us an outward appearance to show us women and men were created differently. Have you ever been witness to a successful businesswoman who gave way to tears? Why are we shocked when this happens? Because we have been fooled by her outward appearance into thinking that she was every bit as tough as a man. It is the hope of this ministry that your wife, after reading the Workbook for Women, will decide to seek a gentle and quiet spirit and allow herself to be the weaker vessel. How will you respond? Will you crush her or cherish her? (See Proverbs 15:4 and Ephesians 5:29.)

What is so important about agreeing with others, especially my wife?

Agree. Agree with your wife and others, especially when they are hurt or upset. “Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him . . .” (Matt. 5:25, KJV). Listening and nodding your head will help a lot when someone is angry or frustrated. So many times we play the “devil’s advocate,” trying to show someone the other side. (The name alone should warn us of probable consequences!) Give the other person a chance to share their thoughts, feelings, and frustrations. Get on their side. Don’t fuel the fire. Later, when they feel they have been heard and understood, they may be receptive to your pointing out a different view. When you are humble enough to show another person understanding, especially when that person is out of control, you are reaching spiritual maturity.

Divided against itself. Satan does all he can to illuminate the areas where you don’t agree so he can divide and conquer your family. “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matt. 12:25). And in Luke, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls” (Luke 11:17). “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel” (Prov. 20:3).

Agreement. This verse will show you why a disagreement between Christian couples is so important to Satan. “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 18:19). When we don’t agree as a couple, we actually cancel each other out. For instance, if you are voting for opposing political candidates, you might as well stay home. “But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations knowing that they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged” (2 Tim. 2:23).

Deeds of the flesh are evident. It is evident to other Christians and certainly to God when the way we act is of a fleshly nature. “Deeds of the flesh are evident . . . strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, envying . . .” (Gal. 5:19–21). “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth . . .” (1 Tim. 6:3–5).

Fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22). “Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative” (Titus 2:9). As a Christian, you are Jesus’ bondslave; He bought you with a price. You are not your wife’s bondslave. You, as Christ’s bondslave, need to be pleasing to Him. You can be patient with others, yet firm in your faith. Do not think that you must give in to your wife’s desires; stand for what is right. And, abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. You need not prove yourself, or get your wife to agree with your way of thinking; just be firm and loving in your decisions as the head of your family, and be “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19).

Slow to anger. You have heard some say that, since Jesus was angry and turned over the tables in the temple, we can be angry. James 1:19–20 says, “But let everyone be quick to hear; slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the angerof man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (See Chapter 6, “The Angry Man,” for more knowledge.)

Again, agree! You must try to find the area of agreement instead of the point of disagreement. “Again I say that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 18:19). Take charge of a disagreement—nod your head, find the points you agree on, and state them to her out loud. Wives want to be heard; everyone does. That’s why people get louder and begin screaming or yelling their point; they want to be heard and understood. Take time to consider the areas that you agree on and move in that direction.

What does God think of a lying tongue, besides the fact that He hates it?

The Lord hates. Let’s read on in Proverbs that tells us much about lying. “There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood (abortionists) . . .” (Prov. 6:16–17). God not only hates lying and thinks it’s an abomination, but also lists a lying tongue alongside an abortionist!

Deceitful. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue” (Ps. 120:2). When someone, possibly your wife, catches you in a lie (or what you call “a fib”), do you deny it? Are you truthful? Do you debate about exactly what you said and try to twist the truth to your favor? Remember, the word deceitful is in the definition of dealing treacherously with your wife.

Father of lies. And lastly, we never want to lie since the devil is the father of lies and lying is an abomination to God. “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Remember, it’s the Truth that sets you free!

Your tongue will be much harder to control if you’ve been drinking.

Not wise. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1). The problem here is the person who is intoxicated by the effects of alcohol. Drinking alcohol is not in itself a sin. It is the evil that you speak, and other consequences—the effects of drinking too much.

Utter perverse things. “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind will utter perverse things. And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. ‘They struck me, but I did not become ill; they beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink’” (Prov. 23:29–35). A person who drinks a lot is not an “alcoholic.” Drinking to excess is not a disease; it’s a sin. Confess your sin if you are held by the cords of alcohol. If you stumble, continue to confess and cry out to God for deliverance.

Proceeds out. “Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man” (Matt. 15:11). If what you are putting into yourself (alcohol) is causing your lips to transgress, then maybe you should stop. Ask your wife or others who are close to you—anyone who loves you enough to tell you the truth. “. . . They will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires . . .” (2 Tim. 4:3). Certainly you wouldn’t choose someone who has a weakness for alcohol to help you find the Truth, would you? “. . . The Truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

To Sum Up

1. Be aware of how much you say—with many words transgression is unavoidable. Instead, let your communication be “Yes, yes” or “No, no”anything more than this will lead to evil.

2.  Be careful what you say—by your words you’ll be justified and by your words you’ll be condemned!

3.  Do not argue—agree with your adversary quickly!

4.  Answer properly. Give a gentle answer, ponder (think awhile) how to answer, and don’t answer before you listen for it is folly and shame!

5.  Then learn to be content in whatever circumstances you are in.

6.  If healing is needed, remember, pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones, and sweetness of speech adds persuasiveness.

7.  The rule of thumb that will help to guide you is this—whatever is easy for us to do in the flesh, it is of the flesh. Whatever is difficult to do and requires us to draw on the Holy Spirit’s strength is walking in the Spirit.

8.  You must walk in the Spirit and stop doing whatever you please. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. . . . These are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal. 5:16–17).

Let us all strive to appear wise by keeping silent. Let our words be loving and patient.

Let us love our wives as Christ loves His church by washing our wives in the Word.

Personal commitment: To open my mouth with wisdom and healing. “Based on what I have learned from God’s Word, I commit to remain patient, to wait before I answer, and to be sweet in all my words, especially to my wife and children.”

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