James has been helping us see just how powerful the tongue can be. He uses another metaphor, this time about how a massive ship can be steered through the wind and the waves of the sea with the proper use of a very small rudder.
James says the same is true for our tongue. The tongue has tremendous potential for either good or harm.
He continues in James 3:5-6: “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. 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.” These are some powerful words that have application for every single one of us.
James is driving home the point that our words are incredibly powerful. The uncontrolled tongue can do terrible damage. Isn’t it amazing that something as simple as our words can bring about such rapid destruction?
A few words spoken in anger can literally destroy a relationship that it took years to build. It can happen in just a moment, one conversation, one message or even one statement. And even though we can apologize for those words that should have never been spoken, the scars remain.
Before you speak, remember that your words are like fire — once those hurtful, cutting, painful words are spoken, it is difficult to reverse the damage they can do. It is better never to speak those words.
Before we speak, it is wise to ask, “Is what I am about to say true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” Just because you think it, does not mean you have to say it.
“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison.” (James 3:7-8)
I think we all know that James is telling us the truth. It only takes a single spark to wreak such havoc and bring such incredible devastation. It just takes a spark for things to get quickly out of control.
The same can be said for the words that we speak. Even though James says, “No man can tame the tongue,” nowhere does he say the tongue cannot be tamed. We need God’s help. We will pick up there next time.
You may read Steve Greene’s blog at pastorgreene.wordpress.com or you can email him at email@example.com.