January 21, 2016
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or 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. 5 Likewise, 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. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
So to this point, James has seemed to say that actions speak louder than words. Now he changes gears and points to the power of words. There’s a big Bible idea at work when it comes to words. Words create worlds. And words can destroy them. In the beginning, the words of God created the world. Jesus is known as the Word made flesh. And the words of Jesus effected all manner of miracles and blessings (as well as a few choice curses) on our race.
Wisdom comes to us in words. Consider these proverbs.
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of sense.
From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom,
but a perverse tongue will be silenced. The lips of the righteous know what finds favor, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.
With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.
When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.
Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
Words create worlds, and words can destroy them. Our words lead our way, James wisely instructs.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or 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.
“Watch your tongue,” is perhaps one of the most apt warnings we could be given.
All of this raises the stakes on God’s word. Nothing could be more important than our immersion in the Word of God, which is our wisdom.
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path. Psalm 119:105
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130.
More on this tomorrow.
1. Think back through the past few weeks. Can you remember occasions when someone’s words hurt you or brought you down? How about when someone’s words built you up or encouraged you? How can words be so powerful?
2. How about your own words? Remember back over the past day or so. Do an audit on your words. What percentage of your words were destructive? What percentage were constructive and upbuilding?
3. A lot of people vastly underestimate the power of their words. How about you? Have you come to grips with the power of your words and the impact they have on others?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.