2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.James 3:2
Someone who is ‘never at fault in what he says’ has surely learned to select his words carefully and control other areas of his life as well. James talks in verse 3 about the bit in the horse’s mouth is what makes the horse obey us. In the same way, verse 4 is about how the rudder is a small part that steers a ship. A ship is large and the rudder is just a small part that moves the ship in the direction the captain wants it to go, even guiding the ship against stormy winds.
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 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 person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.James 3 3-6
Our tongue can work much the same way, to use our words to make a big impact by what we say. By encouraging or paying a compliment to someone we can cause them to gain courage in their decisions or leadership skills. But, if we use words to tear people down it can cause the opposite effect because it will cause doubt and eat away at someone’s confidence. The tongue can even have the effect of lighting a fire that can become an inferno destroying whatever is in it’s way.
We’ll discuss more about the tongue in tomorrow’s post. Until then, work on learning to control your tongue…