Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Women of the Word {Esther - speaking wisely}

One of the things that always manages to convict me, when reading about Esther, are the lessons learnt about using our words wisely.

Esther is a wonderful picture about how to communicate effectively, especially with your husband.  Numerous times, throughout the account of Esther, we see her being wise with her words.  Not just with her husband, but also with others.

The thing that stands out most, above the details of what she says, and how she says it, is WHY she did it.

All Esther does, all through this book, is for the benefit of the righteous.  She is protecting her people, the Jews, and she is protecting Mordecai.  Wisdom, resulting in clever speech, is her forte.

As a wife, and as a follower of Christ, we have lessons we can learn - whether it's speaking to our husband, or speaking to our friends and family.  Those who are nearest and dearest should be the recipients of our wise speech.

There are two areas that stand out to me.

Her words protected her husband

Her words persuaded her husband

Early on in the book, we find Esther protecting her husband, by what she says.  As I mentioned last week, it would have been ever so easy for her to just say nothing.  It's  easy to stay silent, but often harder to speak up.  If Esther had said nothing, those plotting to kill Ahasuerus would have been successful.  Being a child of the King, she didn't want to see hurt come to her husband, and so she spoke up.

As a wife, it's our duty to use words that protect our husband.  I hear FAR too many women "husband bashing".  I cringe when I hear women degrading their husband, and criticising him. It saddens my heart when women think so little of their husband that they show such disrespect. God has given us our husbands.  They are a blessing to us. To begin to undermine their authority, by "letting them down" in a public manner, is quite simply abhor-able.  Are they perfect? No.  None of us are.  Does that mean we can moan and groan and complain to whoever, whenever? Nope.

Our words should be like a covering around our husband - wrapping him in a protective blanket, where no-one else has reason to start criticising or judging him unfairly.  If we throw out comments out of context, or in the heat of the moment, the minds and mouths of others are likely to be critical and jump to false conclusions - all because of our inability to keep silence.

HOW we speak to our husband is also of vital importance.  If we speak with a harsh tone, or with impatience and a lack of grace, our words will not be well received.  You know yourself, if a child, or anyone else for that matter, speaks with the wrong tone, our minds and hearts will quickly put up a "no" in response to their request or statement.

Looking at general scriptural principles, and applying them to marriage, is a good exercise.

Our words should be quiet - 

"The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools. "
Ecclesiastes 9:17 

How often it is so easy to start getting loud and irritated, when we try to put our point of view across, or we don't agree on something.  Your husband hear you louder, if you speak quietly.

Our words should be gracious - 

"The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself."
Ecclesiastes 10:12  

If we have words "always with grace", then we will avoid so much conflict.  Being gracious is about thinking the best of another - not picking up on the worst.  Forgiving.  Loving. All vital in a marriage.

Our words should sometimes NOT be spoken -

" In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise."
Proverbs 10:19 

As hard as it might be, there are times when we ought to say nothing at ALL.  The more we say, the more we open ourselves up to sinning in our words.  It's like a snowball.  One unwise thought slips out as words, and the rest comes tumbling after.  Once words are spoken, they can't be taken back.  It ain't easy for many women, but the truth is "least said, soonest mended".

Our words should build up our husband - 

"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
Ephesians 4:29

Our husbands are just as relevant as anyone else, here.  We are to build our husband up, with the words we use, not tear him down.  Ministering grace to the hearer - our husband. Serving him up a portion of gracious "herbs" alongside his dinner, instead of "stalled ox" and strife. Love = grace. IF Christ didn't show us that, then I don't know who did.  If we love our husband, our words will shower him with grace, and encourage him.

Our words should not be manipulative - 

"For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:"
I Peter 3:8

Guile is all about being duplicitous, crafty and deceitful - it's using our words for self gain, and perhaps even with-holding the truth for our own betterment. It's another sad truth  - wives of today manipulate and deceive.  It is evidence of a lack of trust and honesty, and downright selfishness, to have a heart of guile.  I know of women who hide things from their husband - purchases made they know they won't be happy about, things they do which their husband wouldn't approve of, places they go that their husband would be unhappy about. All based upon selfish desires and motives.  Not caring about the thoughts and opinions of their husband.  Completely and utterly lacking in mutual respect. Ladies, it's WRONG! Just don't do it! Look at the promise given - if you want to love life and see good days, don't speak in an evil way, and don't have a heart of guile. 

This verse follows on from Peter's specific teaching to husbands and wives.  The fuller exhortation reads like this...

"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 
Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 
For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:"
I Peter 3:8-10

Talk about being packed full! So much instruction and wisdom, worthy of our attention.

Ephesians clearly teaches that we are to respect our husband.  If we are to show respect, then we need to be wise both in how we speak TO our husband, and ABOUT our husband.

As to the second way that Esther's words were used - she persuaded her husband.

There are times when we need to be wise about when and how we speak to our husband, on matters of importance. Not because we are trying to manipulate for selfish reasons, but because we know our husband is at his best to listen and take things on board.

If you need to speak with your husband on an important subject, and he has had a stressful work day, and a headache to boot, it would be unwise to raise it at that moment.  He is not going to be able to cope, mentally or physically, with processing an important subject matter - not because he's an unreasonable ogre, but because he's human.  If you come and try to talk with him whilst he is trying to do something else, that is also a no-no.  Many men can simply not deal with more than one thing at once.  It's the way God made them, and it means they are usually super-focussed on something else, and doing a great job of it, as well!

Think of it this way - are there times when your children come and ask you about something, and you tell them you can't think about it right now? If so, the same may well apply to speaking to your husband. If I am making dinner, I can't concentrate on complex questions from my children.  I would rather wait, so I can fully listen to them, and help them to my greatest capacity.

It's equally an issue of not being selfish and impetuous yourself! Having self control and waiting for the right time, is something we need to exercise as women, as much as understanding our husband!

Esther both protected her husband, and persuaded her husband - all because she chose to use her words wisely, and to put others before herself.

We we would do well to do the same.

1 comment :

  1. The impact of words spoken is so powerful. It can make or break a person or a relationship, or a deal. Thanks for pointing out the importance of a good communication and the power of gentle words. :)