Watch Your Mouth

By   •   December 5, 2008   •   Topics:

One Saturday night a few weeks before Christmas, Kristina and Rob attended a holiday party at another married couple’s house. Kristina and Rob had only lived in the area for six months, and they were newlyweds.

Feeling a little insecure at the party, Kristina started to make small talk with a few women in the living room while Rob gravitated toward the other husbands, who were watching a basketball game on TV.

“Those men are always watching sports,” said Sara, the hostess of the party.

Another woman spoke up. “Yeah, they’re always yelling like animals and ignoring us.”

Some of the women gathered in the living room rolled their eyes in agreement.

Kristina watched the women in silence, wanting to participate in the conversation but unsure what to say. Rob was a wonderful husband, she thought. She enjoyed watching basketball with him, and in the past few months, they had learned to share household tasks and fun activities in a way that agreed with both of them.

She glanced at him as he greeted his peers.

Taking a step closer to Kristina, Sara elbowed her: “So what do you think of married life so far?” The other women gazed at her, waiting for her answer.

“It’s pretty good,” said Kristina. The question had caught her by surprise. “We have had a few rocky moments, but I like it.”

“Just you wait a few months,” said Sara. “When Matt and I reached the one-year mark, I was ready to call it quits. We fought so much that first year.”

Kristina said nothing.

“When the going gets tough, my husband always walks away,” said another woman. “He likes to slam the door and go hide in his video game room. We call it the ‘man-cave.'” The other women laughed.

Feeling the pressure to complain too, Kristina said, “Well I guess Rob can be a little hot-tempered sometimes.”

At this, the other women started to voice negative comments about their own husbands. When the men saw the conversation heating up among their wives, a few of them walked toward the living room.

“Are you all talking about us?” asked Matt, Sara’s husband. “They never stop complaining,” he said, as he looked at the other men.

Glancing around at the other guys, Rob looked nervous, like the new kid in class. “You know what they always say,” Rob said. “‘Wedding rings are the world’s smallest handcuffs.'”

At Rob’s comment, the entire room erupted in laughter – that is, except for Kristina.

As she looked at her new husband’s hands, the hands that she had held on her wedding day while they said their vows, Kristina’s stomach felt like it had been tied into a knot. Tears welled up in her eyes, and she hurried away to hide in the bathroom.

Rob looked down at the gold band on his ring finger and realized that he did not at all believe what he had just said. And now his wife was injured by his words.


A few words spoken carelessly can ignite a fire of negativity and cause damage to relationships in an instant.

Kristina and Rob wanted others to accept them more than anything, so they failed to resist the divisive conversation.

Then Kristina said something she didn’t mean, and Rob said something he didn’t believe.

Billy Graham says, “Few things can get us in as much trouble as our words–and few things can be more helpful to others, if we learn to speak wisely and out of love. The Bible says, ‘A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver’ (Proverbs 25:11). It also says that ‘Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing’ (Proverbs 12:18).”

Friendships, marriages, familial relationships, and relationships between colleagues represent the everyday battlegrounds where words of life or death can be spoken. If we look to television and movies, or even magazines, for guidance on how to act toward others, then our perception of relationships will be damaged, even trivialized.

Modern media tend to portray different relationships in stereotypical ways that can damage our own perceptions of ourselves. The real world doesn’t operate like the fictional TV world. On the other hand, the Bible portrays relationships in a way that is truthful and accurate, and the Bible teaches wisdom on how to grow healthy relationships.


Here are a few Biblical tips for speaking healing words:

  • Remember that people are eternal beings, created in the image of God.

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:9).


  • Think about your answer before you say anything.


“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).


  • If you find yourself holding bitterness inside, ask God to heal you and make you more like Jesus Christ.


“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).


  • Try not to make an instant judgment about people. Instead, ask God for wisdom when you are trying to be discerning about a relationship.


“A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue” (Proverbs 11:12).


  • Consider the consequences of what you plan to say.


“The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21).


  • If you claim to be a follower of Christ, then keep that in mind at all times.


“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26).


  • Be on guard for small statements in your speech that may contain arrogance or corruption; they can swell up to become a great big mess.


“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 person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. …Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” (James 3:5-7,9)


When Kristina and Rob pulled into their driveway that night after the party, Kristina looked at her husband and told him that she regretted speaking negative words along with the other women at the party.

“But the thing that hurt the most was your joke,” she said. “Your words have the power to cut me to pieces.”

Rob turned red and bowed his head. “I regretted saying that as soon as it came out of my mouth.” Then he looked in her eyes: “I don’t know why I did that; I guess I just wanted to fit in. I didn’t mean it. I’m sorry.”

After they got out of the car and walked into the house, the newlyweds talked a little more about what had happened at the party. In order to make sure it never happened again, the couple sat down and made each other two promises:

One, never to say anything negative about each other in front of other people;
Two, never to walk out of the room, slam the door or leave when they had a disagreement.

The promises would be difficult to keep, at first, because bad habits had already arisen in their lives, but they decided that the peaceful outcome would be worth the sacrifice.


Do you have a covenant of peace to make with a loved one this Christmas season? Maybe your words to each other, or about each other, have soured. If this is true in your life, then be the one to speak up today.

Make peace with your loved ones, and create a covenant, or a promise, to speak kind words of love to them, whatever is “helpful for building others up …” according to Ephesians 4:29:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV).


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