Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
A Father’s Day Call to Bless
By Tim Held, North Campus Elder
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear—Ephesians 4:29
This command is clearly for all believers, but the aim of this Father’s Day article is to apply it to marriages, because at Bethlehem we love to exhort marriages to reflect the beauty and fidelity of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33; Genesis 2:24).
My father modeled this command, especially the way he spoke to and about my mother in front of my brother and me. Truthfully, I cannot recall dad ever speaking corruptly about my mother. What about the rest of us?
How often do we complain about our wives or subtly cut them down? Do you make jokes at her expense? Do you express frustration because she doesn’t measure up? Do you compare her to others? Is your sacrificial and verbalized love for her conditional on how respected you feel?
Brothers, this is corrupting marriage talk. In fact, we see in verse 30 that it grieves the Holy Spirit. Conversely, what should our marriage talk do? It should build her up. It is tailored to the occasion. It transmits grace. Wow, what a difference!
Consider too that our children will one day imitate our marriage speech. Sons need us to model with gracious words how to love a wife. Our daughters need intimacy with us when they are insecure; and for them it likely starts with how we speak to their mother. All our children need to hear us protect our wives’ honor, regardless of her shortcomings. As fathers, the force of our words to bless or curse our marriages has generational implications.
My father’s influence in this area is still producing grace. I have always been sensitive to not speak corrupting words about or to my wife. And by God’s grace we hear our sons leading in their adult dating and engagement relationships in the same way. What a blessed spiritual legacy of one father. What will be your family legacy in this area?
Let us take the occasion of Father’s Day to consider our marriage speech, remembering that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:43-45). This means that even our kind words will betray us if they are not born from a heart that loves as Christ loves. The good news is that as Christian men we have the Holy Spirit in us, and the new covenant embossed on our hearts. Yield to both; praying that our words will produce washing grace to our wives and a loving legacy for generations to come.