by Barbara Rainey
The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails. ECCLESIASTES 12:11
When your marriage relationship hits a trouble spot, it may be difficult to find much to praise about each other. Yet those are the times we need praise the most. So I urge you to initiate praising your spouse. Make it a deliberate effort. Bring the power of positive words to him or her in the midst of trouble.
In the verse above, the author (who may have been Solomon) gave some very descriptive characteristics of well-spoken words. When you choose to encourage and praise your spouse, your words carry the ability to prod, or goad, him or her in the right direction. And notice the result: Those words become like "well-driven nails," the kind that secure all types of building projects.
In the hands of God, your words can be used like nails to secure your mate's self-esteem. Your wise and truthful words bring perspective to his or her life, to your relationship and to your situation as a couple. They make finding solutions to your problems a real possibility.
You may be asking, "What if all this praise goes to my spouse's head? Won't he become prideful?" There's a difference between truthful praise and flattery.
Flattery gratifies a person's vanity, but praise is based on a person's character and deeds. When you truthfully praise and applaud your spouse's choices, you reinforce the value of building godly character.
Paul exhorts us, "Speak truth each one of you with his neighbor" (Ephesians 4:25). A keyword in that phrase is "truth," which is the only real standard for bringing value to another person. Truth results in assurance and security, in worth and value. It becomes the compass during the storm that confidently steers us in the right direction.
So praise your spouse in all situations, using wisdom to meet the need of the moment, speaking truthfully to help construct character. Your words of affirmation can help rebuild what life has torn apart.
What's been blocking the flow of affirming words in your relationship? Share three real compliments with each other.
Pray for a heart that longs to build up, not tear down.