Words of Life or Death
Melanie Chitwood

"The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences." Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)

I often hear my husband Scott say something to my sons that brings a smile to my face. "Have you told your mom you love her today? Don't ever forget you have the best mom in the world." When I hear him praise me to our sons, I feel encouraged and appreciated. From my husband's example, I've learned to be careful about the words I say not only to my husband but also about my husband.

Today's key verse tells us our words can bring "death or life." In our marriages, this means our words can either tear down our spouses or build them up. I've been noticing lately whether I'm more likely to say words such as, "I'm married to the greatest man," or words like, "I told you so," or "You don't even try to understand me."

What about you and your words to your husband? When you speak to your husband, do you fill him up with praise, or make him feel like he's not measuring up?

Let's also consider the words we say about our husbands to others. What kind of things do you say about your husband to your children? Your best friend? Your sister or mother?

I tend to be a "venter" when I am angry or frustrated with my husband. Sometimes I turn to others because I'm seeking validation for my angry feelings. Often I vent when I haven't taken the time first to deal with the situation with God. I'm learning that if I go to the Lord first in prayer, pouring out my heart to Him, He changes my heart and brings me to a place of repentance and calmness. Then I'm able to let go of my anger and move on, or talk to my husband about it in a loving manner.

Scripture gives plenty of evidence that God's words have the power of life. In Genesis we're told God created every inch of the world with His spoken words. John 1:1 tells us that Jesus is the Word. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus heals countless people with the power of His words. In a similar manner, our words have accomplishing power. God wants our words to bring life to our marriages. We can choose what we will sow—words of life or words of death—and we will reap the consequences many times over.

Use today's application steps to fill up your husband with words of life.

Dear Lord, let my words to my spouse and about my spouse draw us closer to one another. Teach me to communicate in ways that build my husband up instead of tearing him down. If pride, stubbornness, selfishness, or any other sin is preventing me from speaking words of life in our marriage, Lord, I confess that right now. Make me aware of any words of death I've spoken in our marriage. And as the Holy Spirit brings those to my mind, help me confess and turn from them, especially any words of divorce. Break any curse on our marriage from hurtful, angry, or destructive words. Guided by Your wisdom and love, may our words to and about one another build a protective wall around our marriage. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Today’s devotion is adapted from What a Wife Needs from Her Husband by Melanie Chitwood

What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue and accompanying Workbook by Deborah Smith Pegues

For more marriage encouragement visit Melanie’s blog – What Matters Most

Melanie offers more words of wisdom in her P31 Woman article Protecting the Oneness in Marriage

Application Steps:
Considering the list below, which words do you speak most frequently to your husband, "words of life" or "words of death"? Plan on blessing your husband with at least one phrase from the "words of life" suggestions.

Words of Life
I appreciate how hard you work.
You are an incredible husband.
You have great insight.
I'm really looking forward to going out with you.
I'm sorry.
I was wrong.
Will you forgive me?
Thank you.
I understand.

Words of Death
You never listen to me.
You just don't get it.
I told you so.
You should have…
I wish you could just try to understand me for once.
How could you think that?
Why did I ever marry you?
That was dumb.
We'd be better off divorced.

What situations tend to cause you to speak "words of death" to your husband?

Are there certain words you need to make off-limits in your marriage?

In what other relationships do you need to practice speaking "words of life"?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 4:29, "Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift." (MSG)

Psalm 19:14, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer." (NLT)

© 2010 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Jennifer said...

Thank you for this today. This was exactly what i needed to hear.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praise God. Ditto on this devotion!!! The tongue can be brutal and can destroy. This message today also convicted me today about gossiping and saying things about other people that was said in confidence. Please forgive my weakness in this department. Thank you Jesus. In His Name

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need prayer for this one. I have gone to counseling and was told that my husband is emotionally/verbally abusive. I blamed myself for most of our problems since he would rarely if ever take the blame.

I understand what you are saying and I know that I need to watch what I say. I tried to build him up to the kids when they were growing up (most of the time). But he was verbally abusive to them too and would not ask for forgiveness.

Why, when I am reading this, do I feel like it's my fault again? I realize that is not the intent. I want to do what is right but there is so much pain. I need a BIG GOD for my BIG problem. I need His help to do the right thing and speak what He desires me to speak even when I don't feel like I can. I need to know that God is still on my side (loves me) even when my husband doesn't know how to express real love to me.

Sometimes things just don't have black/white answers. I wish they did, it would be easier.

Please pray for me and others like me.
Thank you.

Blogger Marilyn Fox said...

This is very helpful. Thank you. I am praying for all those who have verbally abusive husbands.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ephesians 5:22 encourages us, as wives, to be submissive to our husbands, "as to the Lord." Though its hard, scripture doesn't say to submit when our husbands are kind, or are deserving, or are loving. It says to submit to them because we trust an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God! Your husbands abusiveness is certainly not your fault, and I pray for you-- and others like you-- that your husband will see his actions in the light of Christ's example and seek to live in a Christ-like manner. My encouragement to you is to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and trust HIM when it comes to loving, trusting, and building up your husband. Scripture also reminds us that our husbands can be won over by our actions and the "reverence" they see in our lives. Take heart! God loves you, He knows your situation, and He will provide the grace you need to continue to love!

Blogger TMOPRAYS said...

Oh my! This is like a lightening bolt Word of God for me today.

My husband was laid off over a year ago. I know it has been overwhelming to him, and he is really lost. I won't go into the details or speak poorly of him, but I will say that he has not been pulling his weight in our marriage.

When the bills went unpaid several time, I began to feel angry at him. It was excuses and a lack of communication. I began to feel like he did not respect me. It has escalated now that he has a job because of his training he is not able to give any free time for studying.

I am in counseling for my anger. I grew up in an angry house full of verbal abuse spewed everyday by my mother at my dad, me, and my siblings. I now know she was a hurting soul, but it does not remove the things that were spoken over me daily.

Anyway, I have said horrible things to my husband. I have yelled, I have screamed, and I have been ugly. I hate it. I always promised myself that I would never treat anyone the way my mother treated us, and here I am doing it. I am not using the curse words she used, but the anger and statements.

I know the power of my words, but it is like turret syndrome. The words and attitude just come out of nowhere sometimes. It's killing me, and I know it is going to kill my marriage if I cannot take a hold of it. I pray for God's help, but I believe I have greived the Holy Spirit or have unrepented sin or something preventing me from walking in total freedom.

The counselor is saying she thinks it is time to call it quits, but I know that is NOT God's will here. I am really at rock bottom feeling alone because I am not hearing Him clearly right now.

Please pray for me that as I print this devotion and re-read it over and over to help me along with Stormie O'Martin's Praying Wife that I will hear from Father what is hendering me from truly walking in freedom. If it is a sin that He will reveal it to me so I can repent, if it is a curse, that I can break it.

Thank you for this devotion. Although it is a reminder of everything that I already know and believe, I feel it is a Word from God directly to me which I embrace and welcome with open heart. I know He is trying to get my attention or teach me something in all this. I just need to keep pressing in.

Thank you for allowing me to share, and thank you for the post.


Blogger Unknown said...

@TMOprays: i will pray for you.

thanks for this devotion - what a well laid out reminder of the do's and don'ts we are called to follow!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was the perfect for me to read today. My husband & I discussed divorce last evening because of ugly behavior and angry words for several years of our 27 year marriage. Pleae pray that we can "pull it together" and do what will bring glory to God.

Anonymous Suzette said...

This topic is worthy of study even as a separated or divorced mother. The higher road is one that I am constantly struggling to stay on, as it would feel so much better right now to show my anger and frustration, to be bitter and twisted. But way in the future, I know that it will be better for my kids and for me if I can be better than all that now, encouraging them to love their dad, talking positive about their dad around them, and even when they aren't around, as our thoughts and words shape who we are.

Blogger Unknown said...

Your devotion is a wonderful reminder/lesson for all people who desire to be better. I'm reminded of the movie "Fireproof" after reading this, which touched me deeply, and how necessary it is to express the Love for what you have instead of hate for what you don't. Thank You Jesus.

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