Life lessons from James #20

Speech can be controlled

“Wisdom is knowing when to speak your mind and when to mind your speech.”


James 3:1-12 (NIV) – “1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. 3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or 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*. 5Likewise 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.

*NOT where the Ship wants to go.

We’ve all said things we wish we could take back.

Things that have caused hurt or trouble

Things we can’t believe came out of our mouth!

Words we say are formed by our tongue and lips, but those words originate in our hearts.

Jesus said: Luke 6.45 (NIV) – “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

According to James our Words are as important as our Works. – Our words also show our Faith.

Like a bridle on a horse’s mouth or a rudder on a ship.

We can control what we say and how we use our speech  in a way that blesses others.

We can actually take control of what we say and use words for our good and the good of others.

James 3:3 (NIV) – “3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.”

This is a helpful illustration of the dominion we can have over our tongue

Indeed we put bits in horse’s mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.

Show bridle how the metal bar lies on the horses tongue

Controlling the horse’s tongue can actually control the horse’s whole body.

A horse controlled by a bit can be of great use. However an unbroken horse can do great damage.

A horse can’t bridle itself – The one who mastered it puts the bridle on

The point is, try as we might we can’t control our tongue through our own efforts

After all, what we say actually originates in our heart NOT our mouth.

The point James makes is if we yield ourselves under the control of our Master the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our speech can honor God and bless others

Psalm 19:14 (NIV) – “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

What an example Job was…!

Job 2:9-10 (NIV) – 9His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

James went on “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.”

Interestingly the Greek word we translate “Little Member” can also mean “Melody”

God intends our tongues to give life a melody  – Not a tragedy

The point is, if we say one thing and do another, the music stops.

Our words and our works are meant to blend together in perfect harmony

Remember the real issue is not the actual Bit in the mouth or the rudder on the ship

BUT the One who is in control!

Inclosing: The story of the “Bar Pilot”

The Captain who has piloted that huge ship across the oceans steps aside and surrenders the wheel to the “Bar Pilot”

Jesus is our “Bar Pilot” – yet too many of us are trying to steer our lives into the harbour

We need to surrender to God the wheel that guides our lives

When we do, our speech will come under control.

Titus 2:7 (NIV) – “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV) – “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”  (Heart is right, your mouth will be right.)

1 Peter 3:10 (NIV) – For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.”