Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Taming the Tongue
James compares our tongues to the bits we put in horses’ mouths. Why in the world would he compare a horse’s bit to the human tongue? Certainly they are not similar in appearance or construction materials. James is thinking about their size and function. He is pointing out how something very small can control something much larger. Horses are very large animals, normally weighing 900 or more pounds. Although bits may vary somewhat in size, any bit will be only a fraction of the weight of a horse. Yet this small metal device, when placed in a horse’s mouth, can make a large, powerful animal stop or change direction. A small bit controls the direction a horse will go just as a small rudder controls the direction of a huge ship.
James wants us to realize that even though our tongues are also small they determine the direction in which we go. The problem is that too often our tongues take control of us rather than us taking control of our tongues. Our words have a major impact on our relationships. Are we using our words in a positive way to show God’s love to others, to build them up, and to draw them closer to Christ? The words that we speak reveal what is in our hearts. Matthew 15:18 "Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart…"
Imagine holding a glass full of water. Suppose someone bumps into you. What overflows from your glass? Water, of course. Milk or juice could not flow out of a glass full of water. The bump reveals what is in the glass. Trials, tribulations, and aggravations are bumping us each day. What kind of words spill out of you when you are bumped? These spills reveal what is inside. If angry, hurtful words come out of you, then you have a heart problem. The words you speak are only the symptoms of the underlying disease. It doesn't do much good to say later that you did not really mean what you said. While there is forgiveness, the poisonous darts of your harmful words have already found their mark and done their damage. You cannot undo their damage any more than you could retrieve all the feathers from a feather pillow that has been opened up and shaken out on a very windy day. Or imagine a board into which many nails have been pounded. You can remove the nails but you will leave many holes.
James says that no man can tame the tongue. We cannot do it by our own willpower, but God is in the business of changing hearts and taming tongues. What about you? Are you working on bridling your tongue? I know that I still need a lot of help in this area!