When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 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. 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. 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. 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 3:3-8)
Wow! The tongue carries a lot of power in it. I’m sure many of you have experienced it’s power, whether you have been built up by it or destroyed by it. The Truth we are facing is how well are we controlling our tongues. This passage in James shows us that a horse is guided by the bits in it’s mouth and a ship is guided by the small rudder. These are two examples of small things controlling very big things. These two examples may not be the best way to help you picture what God is trying to explain about the tongue, so I will add one more in case you haven’t been on a ship or seen a horse bridled. Everyone has seen a car, driven one, or been a passenger in one. Well, the steering wheel is similar to the two examples in this passage. It too guides the car where it will go.
Back in 1912, there was a ship the papers declared to be unsinkable. It was a sight to behold. It was the talk of every town it docked in. Many people got on board, looking forward to their arrival in New York City. The trip from England was meant to be easy in this “Unsinkable” ship. I think sometimes we believe that people are unsinkable. They couldn’t possibly get hurt by our words. Oh, how wrong we are. We are accountable for every word that comes out of our mouth. We have the power to build or destroy a person with one word. I have felt the pain from words and I have felt healing from words. Also, I know I have been the giver of words that are not true of God’s nature.
The “unsinkable” ship, well, as some of you know it was the Titanic. On April 14th, 1912, the Titanic had 2,240 people on board. It was that night that the journey for close to 70% of these people would come to an end. The two lookouts who were on duty saw an iceberg ahead and they alerted the first officer. There were a number of things done to try to prevent the collision into the iceberg, but nothing could stop the titanic. Once it hit the iceberg, the damage had been done. The boat started to fill up with water and it didn’t take long for it to sink. There were not enough life boats on board for the number of people. So the women and children filled the boats first. There were 706 survivors out of the 2,240 people who were on board. It’s difficult for me to think about, especially when you read the facts about the lifeboats being able to hold more survivors. Some lifeboats did go back and retrieve people, but most didn’t afraid they would be taken over.
My tongue, your tongue, our tongues are compared to the rudder of this great ship called the Titanic. There were 1,500 innocent people who lost their lives on April 14th, 1912. How many innocent people will sink in your life due to the words you say? How many will drown at the judgements you pass? How many people will be crying out for the lifeboat that you are in to just come their way? The challenge is simple! Can we learn to tame our tongues? The passage of scripture hasn’t said it’s impossible, it’s just letting us know that it will take work. Every day we must put more of God inside of so that His Word, His Truth, and His Goodness come spilling out of us. May the poison that’s bottled up in our tongues be a little less each day, as we take the time to memorize God’s Word, spend time with God, and conform to who He desires us to be.
Lord, I pray that You will tame my tongue every day. Hold me accountable for the words I say. Help me to not be someone who sinks a person, but may I be in the business of rebuilding people with Your Truth. May I help others get into the lifeboat that You have provided through Your Son.
My Tongue is Yours to Tame,