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James 3:3-5a

13 02 18 - 23:22

Take Control 

James 3:3-5a
 
3  Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4  Behold also the ships, which though [they be] so great, and [are] driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5a  Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.
 
We often ignore the small things in life as though they made little difference. Yet the smallest things can cause great problems or do great things depending on how they are used. Think, for example, about the power of a comma. Its placement in a sentence can completely change its meaning. By omitting it in a legal document, a clerk could affect the lives of many people.
 
This is the point that James was trying to make for his readers. The tongue is just a very small organ of the body. Yet we often forget the power that it has. I have often offended someone by spontaneously making a sarcastic remark or by speaking exactly what I was thinking at the time. It is a thoughtless way for a Christian to behave.
 
James was trying to teach his readers to take control over their tongues. He said, "Behold, we put bits in horses' mouths..." The horse is an animal much larger than a man, and a bit is just a small mouthpiece on a horse's a bridle, having fittings at each end to which the reins are fastened. But, that bit enables the rider to turn the horse in any direction that he wants him to go.
 
Likewise, the rudder on a ship is very small compared to the rest of the vessel. Yet, the captain is able to use it to guide the huge vessel through raging storms, with violent winds and powerful waves. Without that rudder the ship would be helpless and lost in the storm.
 
The tongue is small but has the power to do great things, whether good or bad. Great inspirational words have moved nations. Consider President John F. Kennedy's words, "Ask not what your nation can do for you, but what you can do for your nation." Millions of people were moved by those words to stop expecting government to take care of them.
 
However, the words of evil also have great power over those who hear them. "How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think." (Adolph Hitler) That thought empowered Hitler to commit some of the world's worst atrocities upon the citizens of Germany and other countries.
 
Words have power. One author said, "Words are thoughts incarnate." It is no wonder that presidential advisors do not want their president to stray from the well thought out speeches that are written for them. The tongue can be a real rascal when it is left to itself, and Christians must learn to control it. So, as James had written earlier, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:" (James 1:19)
 
Before The Throne:
 
You know that your tongue has gotten you into trouble in the past. Confess that to the Lord and think about those instances and what you could have said instead. Ask God to help you have the words that would glorify the Lord and not offend people unnecessarily. Pray, as David did, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer." (Psalms 19:14)
 
For Further Study:
 
(v.3) * Jas 1:26; 2Kgs 19:28; Ps 32:9; Ps 39:1; Isa 37:29;
 
(v.4) * are driven. Ps 107:25-27; Jonah 1:4; Matt 8:24; Acts 27:14-38;
 
(v.5) * so. Exod 5:2; Exod 15:9; 2Kgs 19:22-24; Job 21:14-15; Job 22:17; Ps 10:3; Ps 12:2-4; Ps 17:10; Ps 52:1-2; Ps 73:8-9; Prov 12:18; Prov 15:2; Prov 18:21; Jer 9:3-8; Jer 18:18; Ezek 28:2; Ezek 29:3; Dan 3:15; Dan 4:30; 2Pet 2:18; Jude 1:16; Rev 13:5-6;
 

About

Author David Roth has been the Multihousing and Community Outreach Director for the York Baptist Association in Rock Hill, S.C. for nearly 20 years. He is the founder and pastor of Midtown Ministries, an inner city ministry to over 50 children and is presently pastoring My Radical Church, a new church plant that is focusing on reaching the homeless and poorest of the city. He has written over 3,000 daily bible studies and is in the process of posting them on this website.

The image in the header is © Andreas Reinhold.

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