(Note: A downloadable PDF copy of this lesson is available on the last page.)
“Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name.” (Malachi 3:16, NASB, emphasis added)
Preceding lessons have stressed the fact that marriage involves an ever-changing relationship between husband, wife and children. Some of the changing events which demand constant adjustments (as noted in Lesson 7) are pregnancies, the arrival of each child, illness, death, job changes, promotions, moving, neighborhood changes.
To illustrate, a husband who had to be away from home for an extended period received a glowing letter from his wife. She was getting along beautifully with the children. They were cooperative, considerate, and helpful. A week later he got another letter. This time there was a different note. It had been raining most of the week; the children were quarreling with each other and were refusing to cooperate with their mother. It had been necessary to punish them. Yes, parenthood is an ever-changing experience. Variety is the order of the day.
Preceding lessons have also stressed the importance of unity and submission for a happy marriage. How can ever-changing people remain united? How do people develop and maintain a way of life in which they are submissive one to another? Given the desire to be united and submissive, constant communication is required in order to keep up to date with changes that occur among members of a family. This lesson will define what is meant by communication.
In writing to the Corinthians, Paul says:
“For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you” (2 Corinthians 1:12).
Husband and wife ought to approach each other in like manner–out of a good conscience, in simplicity and godly sincerity, by the grace of God. This is the attitude that paves the way for letting your partner know what is really on your heart.
Again, Paul says: “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25). Unity is based on “the testimony of our conscience,” on being thoroughly and completely truthful with one another.
Note Ephesians 4:1-16. Here Paul speaks of the aids given to us in order that we may become perfect in our relationships one to another. Verse 15 stands out: ” … but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” Speaking the truth is not enough. It must be done in love, not with a vindictive spirit. We must keep the headship of Christ ever before us.
A review of the section on proper speech in Lesson 1 would be helpful here.
Proper appreciation one for another is also a part of communication. Consider the introductions to Paul’s letters. For example:
“We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints” (Colossians 1:3-4).
What a positive note! The apostle expresses his appreciation of what these people are. All of us need appreciation. Wives, husbands, and children need to know that they are appreciated. A counselor often hears a statement like this: “My mate surely realizes my appreciation!” Your mate needs to hear you say it. This is important to each of us–a sincere, truthful declaration of appreciation.
Note the introduction to 1 Thessalonians:
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3).
Paul made known his appreciation of the good qualities of these people.
It is important to note that communication involves more than verbal declarations. Paul recognizes the Thessalonians’ work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. There is the wife who has very little to say. It is her tender glance that speaks of her love. To cook the meals as her husband likes them is her way of expressing her devotion. Her husband recognizes these acts as her way of communicating. To seek to understand the meaning of each other’s words and deeds and to accept them for what they mean is to be truly united.
How much have you done about letting your partner know of your appreciation of him or her? Such communication is fundamental to a good marriage. What do you appreciate about your partner? Be sure that you know. Then let your partner know. What can you do for each other? How wholesome it is to do it!