The tongue is a tiny organ physically, but from a spiritual perspective, it is powerful. With our tongue we do great damage to ourselves and those around us. Our tongue creates words that are able hurt people. Our words can cause people to become very angry or very sad. Our words make people hate or fear us. Even one evil comment can spread like a tiny spark that lights an entire forest on fire. A few harsh or false words can cause many people to dislike us or to believe things that are not true about us or God.
This is why James tells us today that our ability to control our tongues (i.e. our words) is a good indicator of our self-control in general. As we will see in the next post, the tongue is very difficult to tame. A person who learns to master their words is a person whose heart is under the taming influence of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. Angry words come from angry hearts. Jealous words come from jealous hearts. And so forth.
Have you learned the power of your words? May we all be more humble before God and choose our words more carefully to limit the damage we might cause to others.
The Text (James 3:2-6)
2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
Questions to Think About
- Do you agree that people who control their words have good self-control in other areas of their life? Why or why not?
- Have you ever been on a horse or a boat? Have you ever watched the bit control the horse and the rudder control the ship? Explain what you saw.
- How have you ever said that something that did a lot of damage to yourself and others? What happened?