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Today’s Truth

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:

  1. Nagging conveys that we don’t believe that someone is capable of knowing what to do.
  2. Nagging can send a message that we don’t believe that someone is smart enough to plan when to do it.
  3. 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!

Let’s Pray

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,

Amen.

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.

11 Responses to “Letting Go Of Nagging”

  1. Mamaof3 says:

    This may be a silly question…. so does this apply to telling your children to pick up their room etc? So I tell them
    Once..if they don’t I give them a consequence?

    • Barb Roose Barb Roose says:

      Good morning and thank you for stopping by GiG today! Oh, you’ve asked the Million Dollar question that I wrestled with when my kids were living at home. There’s no hard and fast rule on this. In my parenting experience, when my kids were around 11 or 12, I clarified what it looked like for them to be obedient (what constituted a clean room and good attitude) as well as the consequences for disobedience. They knew about the consequence in advance (back then, it was the loss of tv/device privileges for that night). So, I did tell them once and then allowed the consequence to follow. When they pushed back or protested, I reminded them that it was their behavior that triggered the consequence, not mine. Does that help?

  2. Beverley says:

    Hi, Barb, thank you so much for the truth you’ve proclaimed today. It spoke directly to my heart regarding my relationship with one of my adult children. I needed to hear this and to trust God for His work. I want to encourage, not nag. Thank you for the reminder.

  3. carol says:

    Bless you, Barb!
    This is a flaw of mine (I honestly inherited from my family) & my spouse, his family, too!
    When we are in the “thick of things”, we both feel “less than” for each other.
    I am working for a better nature, like Jesus. I’m a work in progress.
    Our current season, I tend to nag about remembering our masks (Ahha!) and it actually, makes me tired of saying it; so your suggestion of saying the statement once is telling, the second time is most definitely nagging, is a light bulb moment for me.
    Thank you, for your divine inspiration this morning!

    • Barb Roose Barb Roose says:

      Hi Carol, thank you for sharing your comment. I know that others can totally relate to the pressure to nag, especially when we care about those that we love. Thank you for sharing God’s a-ha moment to you!

  4. Laura says:

    Barb,
    Being a caregiver of a disabled husband, I ask if he has taken his meds. He often forgets to set his alarm 3x a day. He forgets to take his meds if the alarm is off. Is this nagging or critical for his health and necessary? Conflicted about this. His memory is compromised. He is in chronic pain and missing a dose has dire consequences.

    • Barb Roose Barb Roose says:

      Hi Laura, thank you for your question. There is a difference between nagging someone who is capable of taking care of something themselves and reminding someone who isn’t capable of remembering. It sounds like your husband isn’t capable due to memory or health issues so your reminders aren’t nagging. I pray that you have a strong support network to love and care about you as you take care of him.

  5. Cherilynn says:

    Thank you, Barb, for this devotional! I am guilty of nagging at times and you have clarified for me how detrimental this can be. The three ways our nagging discourages others really hit home, because that is so not what I want to convey to my loved ones. With God’s help, I will say something once and then leave it there. Thanks again 🤗

    • Barb Roose Barb Roose says:

      Cherilynn, thank you for stopping by Girlfriends in God and sharing your comment. Your resolution to let go of nagging (with God’s help!) encouraged many others today!

  6. Tammie says:

    Thank you for this reminder. One place I truly struggle on this is at work. My boss won’t respond to my emails, but I cannot complete my work without his input…especially when there is a deadline looming. I work for an attorney. I’ve tried every creative way to work with him, but nothing seems to work. He simply does not give me the feedback that is needed.

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