January 28, 2019
A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down (Proverbs 14:1, NIV)
Friend to Friend
In the past, whenever I’ve read the above verse, I’ve always thought of it in the context of the maternal head of a family, or of a wife. But truly, this “Demolition Debbie” role could belong to a big-mouthed teenaged girl, a disagreeable girlfriend, a disrespectful coworker, or even a dismissive adult sister. Scripture takes care not to label this woman beyond “wise” or “foolish,” giving each of us the opportunity to slip ourselves into this descriptive warning.
How, exactly, does this foolish woman tear her house down? Well, knowing (and being) a woman, I have a strong hunch: Her tongue, Ladies. Most of us have been said to possess the ‘gift of gab.’ And a few of us, myself included, have even been accused at one time or another of having “verbal diarrhea!”
All that tongue wagging can get us in deep trouble. Especially when our speech is sarcastic, full of condescending tone, or littered with insults or complaints. Growing up in a home where sharp tongues reigned and verbal arguments filled the air, I was well-trained to use my tongue as weapon.
Whenever I was frustrated, my tongue would come out in full force. This was an area where the Lord had to deal most pointedly with me, as I was accustomed to tearing down the people in the home of my upbringing. My husband—then fiancé—helped me to see how insulting my words could be one day after receiving a verbal outburst from me. He calmly interrupted me and said, “Hey, I don’t deserve to be spoken to that way.” And he was right, he didn’t.
Over the past three decades, I have made great strides in this area, although I do still, from time to time “have a tone” as my husband would say. The way Jesus began to work on this for me was to show me that out of my heart, my mouth speaks. My heart needed to get right for my speech to reflect the Lord’s grace. Second, I had to realize I was not the Holy Spirit to others, meaning, it wasn’t the job of my comments to reform the behavior of those in my life—it was the job of my prayers and of my God.
Once I filed down my sharp tongue I was able to speak to my children, not scream at them, overlook the insult of a friend, and rather than sharply rebut something my mother, husband, or brother said to me, I could simply choose quiet. I’ve come to adopt this new slogan: A wise woman once said -nothing!
Friends, I have watched more than a few of my friends and acquaintances tear up their marriages, their relationships with their children, their parents, their siblings, all because of the wildfire that burned within their mouths—their tongue.
A thought occurred to me as I was reading the Book of Job this past summer and thinking about this truth: Maybe the reason Satan didn’t wipe out Job’s wife along with his children was that keeping her and her biting tongue alive was another facet of his torture.
Girl, let’s NEVER allow ourselves to be used by Satan as his weapon in another’s life!
Lord Jesus, the last thing I want to be remembered for is that I was great at demolishing my home and the relationships around me. Please, reform my heart and help me to keep a tight rein on my tongue as I seek to be honorable in all I say and do.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It's Your Turn: Paul tells us, in his letter to Timothy, “all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” Spend a quiet moment reflecting on each of these verses and allow the Holy Spirit to have his way with you.
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.
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin…
The tongue has the power of life and death…
Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;
restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.
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Originally published Monday, 28 January 2019.