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Having only been married for a short time, I find myself incredulous at the amount of sanctification already evident as a result of two selfish sinners living together. Already our home has encountered many-a joyful day of sweet unity as well as sad, difficult days of warring pride and stubbornness. We’ve discovered that the “honeymoon state” of our newlywed status doesn’t obliterate our sinful tendencies.

This past week has been a showcase of such tendencies. Escalating events of wounded pride and misunderstandings lead to explosive battles for our respective positions. Through the course of the week, these battles took on a sort of ebb and flow pattern. We’d bicker, then recede to a semblance of peace, only to haul out the arsenal against some other infinitesimal offense the next evening. Most of these skirmishes were brought to an end due to a far more humble hubby.

I‘m not wrong, I fully insisted to myself. I refused to even consider being incorrect, much less sinful, in these occurrences. He’s aggravating me; he’s being inconsiderate… Et cetera. During every peace-making time, when he was repenting and asking forgiveness of me for what he had done wrong, I merely threw into the mix an apology for the manner in which I responded. I obviously had no part in the sinning. Obviously.

In “peace-time” last night, while hubby was working on homework, I perused our three-IKEA-bookshelf-wide library, and my eye caught on a title. I hesitated. Crap! I reached out and sheepishly pulled the book off the shelf. The self-righteousness in my heart recoiled in fear of the rebuking that was sure to come with any further action taken with this book. However, the Holy Spirit working in my heart won out, and I walked back to our loveseat with War of Words by Paul David Tripp.

The first chapter, God Speaks, addresses how “wordy” our lives are and how necessary words (and thereby, communication) are to our lives as humans created in God’s image. God first spoke, giving words their significance. He communicated to us Himself through words. Tripp uses Isaiah 40 as an example of God revealing Himself and His glory. In this chapter is found a quote, putting quite succinctly, how our words are not our own.

“…Words do not belong to us….They should echo the Great Speaker and reflect His glory. When we lose sight of this, our words lose their only shelter from difficulty. Talk was created by God for His purpose. Our words belong to Him.” (p. 15)

I will have to remember that: words have a “shelter from difficulty” if they are spoken within the guidelines for which they were created! As I continued, I felt the afore mentioned rebuke with every word read and a heart heavier and heavier with conviction. How haughty I had been! Speaking awful words (that I thought I owned) to my husband and then believing I was in the right. At the end of the first chapter, Tripp prompts you to honestly evaluate your talk by Galatians 5:22-23, to confess sin to God and others, and to “commit yourself to the work of change” while continuing through the book. He includes the following questions on page 16 to assist with the self-evaluation:

  • Does my talk with others lead to Biblical problem solving?
  • Does my talk have a “stand together” or a “me against him / her / them” posture?
  • Do my words encourage others to be open and honest about their thoughts and feelings?
  • Am I approachable and teachable or defensive and self-protective when talking with others?
  • Is my communication healthy in the principal relationships in my life? (ie. husband-wife, body of Christ, neighbor-neighbor, employer-employee)
  • Does my talk encourage faith and personal spiritual growth in those around me?
  • Do I speak humble and honest words of confession when I sin and words of sincere forgiveness when others sin against me?
  • Do my words reflect a willingness to serve others or a demand that they serve me?

Ouch.

Let me tell ya, I didn’t do so well on that little pop quiz. Upon finishing the first chapter, I went in tears to my husband to repent and ask his forgiveness for my unwillingness to serve him and the sinful use of my words. Et cetera. It felt so good to both go before the Lord together in prayer.

I’m sure I’ve not seen the last of this lesson, but for now, I’m finishing this great book and wholly relying on God’s strength to use my words only for their intended purpose–to His glory.

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