James 3:3-12 – “Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they may obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4 Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder, wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by the human race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Neither can salt water produce fresh.” NASB
Meddle? Yes, I want to talk about “Taming the Tongue” and anytime that topic comes up some consider it meddling. The tongue is a unique little instrument within the human body. It is the vehicle through which we express our feelings, desires, thoughts, and say the things we desire to be expressed. Tragically, many engage the tongue before they engage the brain. Some are extremely quiet, saying little and others are overly talkative never being quiet.
I have always found it interesting the way that James leads into his teaching on the tongue. He suggests that we are to ‘bridle’ the entire body if we are to exhibit true Christlikeness. He then alludes to small things which control much larger and more powerful things. Then, he introduces the Power of the Tongue. He uses the analogy of a ‘small fire’ doing incredible harm.
Through the years, I have had some proudly declare, “I say what I think!” Sometimes that is a very bad idea. I had a person tell me, “Pastor, you never have to wonder where you stand with me, ‘cause I tell it like it is.” I thought, “No you tell like you think it is or how you want it to be but sometimes you are wrong.”
Tragically, just blurting out whatever comes to mind does not consider the feelings of others. That practice not only damages relationships but our own lives producing a negative and self-centered view, frequently.
Words Are Expressions of Thought. Max Muller, the German-born Philologist said, “The words is the thought incarnate.” Every word that we speak has its own history. It was conditioned out of some event or series of events in our lives.
Words Are Revelations of Character. James sees and expresses what each of us needs to observe and acknowledge regarding human behavior. “Religion that does not rule the speech is a failure and a fraud.” Through the fire of the tongue, the fire of strife is ignited, and the soul is thereby poisoned by the input of an unruly tongue.
James refers to the tongue as being like a wild beast that needs taming. It is often fierce, and uncontrollable. That is a picture of us without the influence of the Holy Spirit and the Grace and Love of God. Many of the evils and the ravages of life find the beginning in an ‘uncontrolled tongue.’
I know that I’m dangerously close to meddling and will discuss this more in the next devotional but for today, I will pause. In the next devotional we will consider types of tongues that need to be tamed and hopefully find a pathway to victory.
God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!