You may have noticed that many of the Scripture passages suggested for further study in our examination of Christian marriage have come from the Song of Solomon. This book remains one of the most neglected in all the Bible, which is unfortunate because few other portions of Scripture have as much to say about the glories of a godly marital relationship as this piece of wisdom literature. The Song of Solomon tells us many things, including the goodness of the physical relationship between husband and wife and the need to express our love and admiration to our spouses verbally.
Throughout this poem, today’s passage included, we find many instances where Solomon and his wife praise each other. These examples, as well as many other biblical passages, remind us of the importance and power of the words we speak to one another. If the tongue can tear down another person (James 3:9), how much more can we use it to build up our spouses with our spoken words?
The words that we speak have a powerful impact on the trust and intimacy that we are able to achieve with our spouses. Kind and trustworthy words are essential if we are to develop the type of intimacy that glorifies God. Unfortunately, we too often pay little attention to what we say. Thoughtless words can instantly damage a relationship that takes years to build. What we say to our spouses today can continue to do damage years from now.
However, God has not called Christians to use our tongues to tear one another down but to build up one another (1 Thess. 5:11). Since this is necessary within the context of the wider Christian community, it is even more necessary within our marriages.
We can build our spouses up by giving them compliments when they are due. This does not mean we necessarily tell them that they are very good at something when they are not; such compliments will not be trusted. It does mean, however, that we eagerly and frequently let our spouses know how much we admire and appreciate them. When we do this, we fulfill the command to build up our spouses and can further the intimacy that glorifies God.
The importance of paying compliments to our spouses is not to say that there is no place at all for constructive criticism. However, all too often the comments we think that we are offering in love are in reality offered for the purpose of destruction. When you are tempted to criticize your spouse, think carefully before you speak. Take some time today to think of one thing you especially appreciate or admire about your spouse. Go and let them know what it is.