The tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21, NIV).
Friend to Friend
I’m a descendant from a long line of well-meaning women whose nagging is a preferred expression of love. You can calculate just how much you’re loved based on the number of times we call or text you, reminding you to wear your coat, take your medicine, or phone when you get home.
Perhaps you’re feeling like you could be a part of my family because you love to repeat requests and recap instructions or dire warnings to your loved ones. If so, welcome to my family. I’m glad you’re here!
For our first family meeting, we’re going to discuss why the people that we love don’t feel loved by our repeating words. Most of the time, our repeating words come from our desire to protect what we love, fix what’s broken, or keep things on track.
When we worry about others, we may use nagging words in an attempt to save them from hardship, difficulty or pain. Nagging is one of several control-loving behaviors we use to reduce our fear. While nagging might make us feel better for a short period of time, it has a long-term negative effect on our relationships. In fact, the origin of the word “nag” is to gnaw. Therefore, our nagging words, even with the best intentions, actually gnaw on our closest connections.
King Solomon wrote a powerful observation about real ways that our words affect others: The tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21, NIV).
In fact, the Book of Proverbs contains multiple verses like Today’s Truth that warn against nagging because of its direct and dangerous impact on our relationships. Our relationships actually thrive or die based on how we use our words.
Our nagging words discourage others in three ways:
- Nagging conveys that we don’t believe that someone is capable of knowing what to do.
- Nagging can send a message that we don’t believe that someone is smart enough to plan when to do it.
- Nagging undermines other’s confidence that they aren’t skilled enough to do the task.
In order for our words to give life, we need to let go of the words or phrase that gnaw at our loved ones. Letting go of nagging means that we say what we need to say once and let people live with the consequences of what they do next.
Jesus provides a great example and wisdom for us to follow. While Jesus shared lots of words, each word inspired and encouraged others toward God’s best. Think of all of the people Jesus met or the disciples who traveled with Jesus. Since He knew about all of the sin in their lives, Jesus could have nagged Peter to stop being so impulsive or Judas to stop stealing from their group treasury. Yet, Jesus taught truth to the people, connected with His disciples, and let everyone choose how they wanted to live.
In one instance, when Jesus was leaving to get away from the crowds in Matthew 8, one man asks Jesus to wait for him to bury his father. Jesus replies, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22).
Jesus wasn’t telling the man to abandon his father; rather, Jesus wanted to clarify the man’s priorities. After that conversation, Jesus didn’t run after the man and remind him. In our time, He wouldn’t text the man once a day to ask Hey, are you coming? Jesus told the man what he needed to do and then let the man live with the consequences of his choice.
In light of today’s truth, here’s some practical wisdom to help you identify when you are nagging: Saying it once is telling; repeating it more than once is nagging. When you want to repeat your words, turn them into a life-giving prayer instead!
Dear God, it’s so hard to stop nagging! You know how much I love the people in my life and how much I want what is best for them. Yet, God, I have to remember that You love them even more! Please convict my heart. I don’t want to gnaw away at my precious relationships. Remind me to come near to You in prayer instead of nagging away at those I love.
In Jesus’s Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Looking for practical application step? Create a “No Nagging” jar filled with Bible verses about saying life-giving words and repeat them to others.
Here are a few other questions to consider today:
If you nag, what fears are behind those repetitious words?
How can you surrender these fears to God instead of nagging others?
More from The Girlfriends
Today’s content is from Barb’s newest book: Surrendered: 40 Days to Letting Go and Living Like Jesus. This 40-day devotional invites you to let go of trying to control others or outcomes and learn how to live like Jesus. Learn how to trust God’s power, presence, promises and provision for your life so that you experience God’s peace no matter what’s happening in your life.