TO CHEW ON: "For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body." James 3:2
In our reading, James uses some picturesque speech to illustrate the potency of the tongue. He likens the tongue to:
- A bit - that small piece of metal put in a horse's mouth. Attached to reins it is the bit that makes it possible to turn a horse to go in one direction or another - James 3:3.
- A ship's rudder - that movable appendage at the bottom of a ship that steers its course in the water - James 3:4.
- A hellish fire that "sets on fire the course of nature and it is set on fire by hell" - James 3:6.
- A confused spring that sends out "fresh water and bitter from the same opening" - James 3:11.
- An impossible tree that yields both figs and olives - James 3:12.
I don't know about you, but I have tongue problems. I'm not the perfect (wo)man who doesn't stumble in word.
How to do better? Here are some scriptural pointers:
- Speak less, with more thought, suppress passion, "bridle" the tongue and thus control the whole body - Proverbs 17:27; and our focus verse - James 3:2.
- Speak simply and truthfully - Matthew 5:37.
- Speak with grace having the "salt" of the gospel in mind - Colossians 4:6; Ecclesiastes 10:12.
- Pattern our speech on Jesus—His love and our faith in Him - 2 Timothy 1:13.
- Speak encouragement and inspiration - Ecclesiastes 12:11.
- Speak words of comfort - Isaiah 50:4.
- Guard our mouths from speech that corrupts (curses, dirty jokes, lying etc.) - Ephesians 4:29.
I'm sure this will continue to be a lifelong project!
PRAYER: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD" - PSALM 19:14.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.