Is there anything more central to communicating God’s way than taming the tongue? I mean, if we could all somehow learn just to control what comes out of our mouths, being sure that every word was pleasing to God, and nothing more, I feel certain we’d see dramatic improvement in our communication both within our marriages and everywhere else! But alas, as our focus passage in James points out, the tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. We shoot its arrows with little regard for the damage that will be done. So how can we stop it? How can you learn to be careful with your words and surrender them to God? Or even to just keep your mouth shut? That’s what we’re going to try to figure out today.
When it comes to marital communication, we really can’t underestimate the importance of forgiveness. We need to understand how unforgiveness is connected to pride, and how humility will change the way we relate to and speak with one another.
We’ve been studying what the Bible has to say about communication, and this week it’s all about how important it is that we all tell the truth. All the time. We need to be deeply committed, as the saying goes, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in our marital communication, and you better believe we’re going to need some help from God!
We’re talking about what it means to communicate God’s way, and last week we talked about some of the most common ways we use manipulation (gaslighting) to mess this up. We all sometimes choose to play games rather than speak plainly and honestly, but as we discussed last time, there are some whose hearts are black with evil intentions bent on control rather than mutual respect and understanding. While the manipulation tactics we talked about last week are often employed even by those who wouldn’t fall into this category, this week’s tactics are far more indicative of a very serious problem.
We can’t adequately cover the topic of communication in this series without addressing the ways in which we choose to manipulate and play games rather than speak plainly and honestly, or the times when we’re more interested in “winning” or controlling than in hearing and being heard. The reality is, I doubt there is a single one among us who has never been guilty of employing at least one of the manipulation tactics we’re going to discuss today, so we each need to carefully evaluate our own selves and bring our hearts into submission to God.
However, while we all fail to shoot straight some of the time, there are those who are so bent on control that communication has become nothing more than a way of exploiting the weaknesses of another in order to gain the upper hand in every conversation. Such people have no interest in hearing anything other than themselves, and don’t care to take the time to gently help others understand their perspective. They simply want to dominate. While we must be careful that we’re not guilty of manipulation in communication, if we’re married to a person like this, we also need to learn how to recognize these manipulation tactics and how to set up strong healthy boundaries around communication to avoid falling victim to these abusers.
We’ve been spending some time learning to communicate within our marriages according to the principles set forth in Scripture, and last time we learned all about the importance of listening. This week we’re expanding on that idea by talking about two practices we all tend to do that are major hindrances to good listening. We presume and assume. Like, a LOT! And you know what they say happens when we assume, don’t you? Well, let’s just say it’s asinine.
We’re learning to communicate God’s way as we work our way through a series intent on finding the areas in which we ruin marital communication, and re-aligning them with God’s desires. Today we’re going to discuss the importance of listening. Really listening. Not just to each other, but to God as well. Honestly, if we could all master just this one area of communication, what a difference it would make! But alas, we are a society that has forgotten how to listen. So, we must re-learn this lost virtue, and who better to learn from than our Creator?
Before we get into the specifics of communication, let’s prepare our hearts. It’s essential that our intentions as we proceed be in line with those of our Heavenly Father. This begins from a place of humility. It is only from there we can approach our spouse with any hope of improving our communication.
It’s human nature to read the kind of stuff we’re going to be addressing “for” someone else. Instead of taking the opportunity to honestly evaluate ourselves, we look for ammunition to load into the arsenal of judgement we’re building against our partners.
Friends, our goal is healing. The only person we have any power to heal is ourselves. So, with that in mind, let’s dive into our passage for this week.
Terrible communication is likely one of the most common roadblocks to healing in broken marriages. Unfortunately, we’re just really, really bad (like as a people) at communicating with each other. We’re selfish, we jump to conclusion, we’re rotten listeners, we assume and presume like nobody’s watching, we manipulate and lie, we spend all kinds of time looking at the faults of others while rarely looking inward to our own faults, and we’re just plain mean to each other. Often times, before we can even think of addressing the larger underlying issues in marriages, we have to first learn to start communicating according to the standards God has laid out for us in Scripture.