Dear Church Family,
Our scripture today comes from
James 3: 2-6.
“Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at 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. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire…”
There is the old saying that “actions speak louder than words” and it can be very much true. But James reminds us that, in sin, the opposite can also be true. How many of us have thought that as long as we didn’t hit someone or steal from them we have not wronged them? That we should be allowed to go home and say whatever we want about them? That, in fact, our hateful talk might even be a good thing to do so that we will keep from physical action! Or how many of us have spoken to a spouse or our children with hatefulness but then passed it off that we just have a temper or that “it was only words.” But remember what James says. He reminds us that where the tongue leads so the rest of the body will follow and what the tongue starts, that fire can burn everything to the ground. James reminds us, in fact, that more than any other part of us, we need to watch our tongues.
It is like what happened in the car the other day. It was a beautiful afternoon and the weather was warm. The kids were giggling and playing in the back seat when suddenly my son shouted, “Mom, stop the car!” In a panic I quickly slowed down. It turns out, he had thrown his sister’s flip flop out the car window. I was furious. I yelled threats. I shouted doom upon them. All the while, in my head, a voice said, “Stop this. Stop speaking like this. It is only a plastic sandal.” Even as I heard that voice, my own voice kept on spewing. Back and forth I went: “Stop this. Stop your tongue” even as I could not stop my tongue. It is the very essence of Paul’s “I do not do what I want but the very thing I do not want, that is what I do”. Except it was not “doing”. It was speaking. But even though it was “just words” it was sin just the same.
Today, let us all be careful what fires we set with our tongues. As James writes, Where our tongues leads, the rest of us follows. More even than any other part of us, our tongue can lead us astray. Let us pray for guidance and strength today for our tongues.
Lord Jesus, help me to hold my tongue today. When I forget, remind me that my words are powerful and can lead my whole life in the wrong direction. Guide me and my speech this day. For I need you every hour. Amen.