*Previously published on my former blog, “For Such A Time As This.”
Bible Study Notes: The Untamable Tongue
James 3:3-6 reads: “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 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 that 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.”
Wow, how powerful words can be! Think of a large horse, such a powerful, strong, sturdy, animal. Yet, a small bridle placed into the mouth of a horse allows a person to control the horse. In the same way,
such a small word spoken unwisely controls the life of a human being, or worse yet, destroys the life of another. Then, there is the ship. Large ships are controlled by a very small rudder. So the rudder goes, so does the ship. So the tongue speaks, so goes the heart of the person who spoke. The verses are so powerful that they do not need much explanation. The concept is really very simple, but it is a concept
that, if not taken seriously, will result in multiple complex disasters.
James 3: 7-8 reads: “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.”
As human beings, we have managed to tame all sorts of wild animals. I have a friend who managed to raise tamed wolves. I have spent a small amount of time with them and they seemed to me as they were no different than lovable puppies. However, a wolf in the wild is a dangerous animal capable of much destruction. Zoo Keepers spend their lives inside the cages of lions, tigers, and all sort of animals that most of us would never approach in the wild. However, not one person has ever been able to tame the tongue.
James 3: 9-12 reads: “With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
Verse nine grieved my heart. Personalize it. With MY tongue, I praise my Lord and Father, and with MY SAME TONGUE, I curse man.
Ugh, the ugliness of it; the truth of it. How many times have we sat in church and sang songs of praise and uttered words of prayer only to shatter the reputation of a brother or sister with our words on the way to the car after the service.
“My brother, this should not be,” echos in my mind. But, what are we to do if the tongue cannot be tamed? We strengthen our relationship with our Father and strive to control such a destructive beast. We cannot do it alone, but He has given us instructions as to how to control our tongue in His Word.
Here are a few other references found in the book of Proverbs.