The Tongue that Needs Tamed

I heard of a church member who was a notorious gossip in her church. She came to the pastor one day and said, “Pastor, the Lord has convicted me of my sin of gossip. My tongue is getting me and others into trouble.” The pastor carefully asked, “Well what do you … More

Speech

The Christians that James wrote to were apparently having problems with their tongues. James had warned them to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (1:19). The power of speech is one of the greatest powers God has given to us. In order to impress upon us the importance of controlled speech and the consequences of our words James gives us six pictures of the tongue:

  1. That of a Bit and Rudder (vv 1-4). - Both the bit and the rudder must overcome contrary forces. The bit must overcome the wild nature of the horse. To overcome the wild nature of the horse, and the rudder must fight the winds and currents that would drive the ship. The bit and rudder have the power to direct which means they effect the lives of many others. Just as the little bits turn large horses, small rudders guide great ships.
  2. That of Fire and animals (vv. 5-8) - The tongue, like a fire, is wide-ranging and uncontrollable. In the tinder-dry conditions of Palestine a forest fire was almost immediately out of control and in the same way no man can control the  damage of the tongue. A fire can begin with just a small spark but it can grow to destroy a city.  As it spreads, fire destroys; and the words we speak have the power to destroy. Fire burns and hurts, and our words can burn and hurt. All of these types of creation have at one time or another been tamed (v.7). However, by way of sharp contrast notice that the tongue of man is still wild and untamed (v. 8). A wicked tongue, though small, may poison the mind and bring death to homes and happiness.

Application

In Titus 2:7-8 these verses tell me to show forth sound speech that cannot be condemned. Today would be a good time to pray the prayer that David  did in Psalm 141:3, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, keep the door of my lips.”

James 3:1-8 (English Standard Version)


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