What do horses and boats have to do with the tongue? James tells us in the next few verses…
Chapter 3, verses 3 – 6 says:
“Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.”
A bit in a horse’s mouth allows us to control these great and powerful beasts, just as a rudder can give us power over a great ship. The bit and the rudder are both small in comparison to the horse and the ship, but if they are not controlled, the horse and the ship both will run wild!
Dangerously so even!
You don’t have to have much imagination to consider the destruction that a wild horse or a loose ship could bring without someone holding it back! Just the same, control over one’s tongue is not only an indicator of self-control, it is a necessity for a disciple of Christ.
Though James started this chapter off by addressing teachers and instructors specifically, the implications of what he has to say go far beyond them as we look at what he says here. What he is alluding to is that something as small as a tongue can have tremendous power, both for good and evil.
Now, how many times have we heard it said “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” Right? Did Mom tell you that when you were little?
Well, let me break it to you: such is – unfortunately – not always the best solution! You don’t solve the problem of an unruly horse by keeping it in the barn! You don’t keep a hard-to-steer boat tied to the dock! Just the same, a vow of silence is not the answer! Learning to control what you say and how you say it is.
The uncontrolled tongue is capable of terrible things, and the implications of its effects often go far beyond what we can see. An uncontrolled tongue is full of mischief, and terrible things can come from it…
“The Power of the Tongue” continues next time…
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