James continues to talk about the power of our tongue and the importance of controlling it.
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.
James compares our tongue to a bit in a horse’s mouth or a rudder on a ship. Both of these are very small parts in comparison to the whole. It is the same with our tongue. It is a small part of our body, but controlling it helps control the entire body and it is amazing how powerful such small part can be. Do you think of your tongue as a powerful pat of your body? How well do you control it? What have your words been like recently?
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.
James continues to talk about the strong influence of the tongue but he takes it further comparing it to a fire. In comparing our tongue to a fire in these verses, he is referring to the destructive power of our tongues. Our words can be like a spark. It can spark a fire that destroys everything around us. Have you ever been the one who used your tongue to spark a fire or have you been on the receiving end? Our words can really impact others – not just for the moment they hear our words, but for years. How many times have you replayed a comment that was said to you over and over again in your head? Can your remember something that was said to you as a child? Was it positive or negative?
In a previous post on this subject from April 17 titled “Taming the Tongue” Bill Hogan made a powerful comment about our tongues when it was compared to a fire. He said, “Funny thing is… fire can also provide warmth and comfort when properly controlled. Our tongues can provide encouragement and support; warmth and friendliness… when controlled by the Spirit.” How true his words are! James is comparing our tongues to the destructive power of fire but Bill points out there are very powerful positive aspects to fire as well.
James addresses our tongues and our words over and over again in the five chapters. It speaks to the importance of controlling our tongues in our lives. It is one of the areas we all struggle with and one we can’t spend too much time in prayer with the Lord for his guidance. Which describes your tongue recently – a destructive fire or a fire that provides warmth and friendliness?
I want to challenge you today to not simply answer that question based on your own thoughts, but to ask those around you which better describes your words. It is difficult to ask others how our words impact them but it is very powerful to receive their feedback. Sometimes it is through this type of accountability we can really recognize the power of our words. I pray you are brave and take this challenge today!
- Scripture references are from http://www.biblegateway.com