Do you know any perfect people? (No? I don’t either…)
James has an interesting take on this, he says:
“We all stumble in many ways. Those who are never at fault in what they say are perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” James 3:2
The first twelve verses of James 3 are a warning about how we use our tongues… what we say. He then gives three illustrations that we can all understand.
In verse three he talks about horses, and how they can be controlled by putting bits in their mouths. Among the largest horses in the world are Clydesdales (the famous Budweiser Clydesdales come to mind). Full grown Clydesdale can weight 2200 pounds…yet they can be controlled by a bit that weighs just ounces.
In verse four he talks about huge ships that can be steered by a very small rudder.
The USS George H. W. Bush, a Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier is the second largest Aircraft Carrier in the world. It actually has two rudders, each weighing 50 tons. That’s pretty big! BUT… the rudders are tiny compared with the bulk of the ship, which weighs 103,600 tons.
In verse 5 he says: “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.”
In his final illustration he compares the tongue to fire. He says: “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire.” (vs. 5 & 6)
It has been interesting to watch the news this summer and see the devastation by the wildfires burning in California. Did you know that the wildfires that burned in California in 2017 were the most destructive on record?
- 1,381,405 acres burned
- 9,470 homes destroyed
- 810 homes damaged
- 43 people killed
- Cost: $13.028 Billion
In verse seven James makes one more teaching point, he says: “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed…”
Think about that… We’ve seen all kinds of animals and sea creatures tamed, like Elephants, Lions, Tigers, Bears, Dogs, Killer Whales, Dolphins, Seals, etc.
BUT… in verse eight to ten he says: “…No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison… With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness…. MY BROTHERS, THIS SHOULD NOT BE.”
My question is: If no one can tame the tongue, what are we to do?
The answer is both simple and deep. We must walk in the Spirit. We must ask God, every day, to fill us afresh and anew with His Spirit. If we are filled with the Spirit, then we will produce the Fruit of the Spirit… “Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness and Self-Control.”
We cannot live the Christian life without the in-filling of God’s Spirit and we certainly can’t control our tongues. But WITH THE SPIRIT, we will be more than conquerors.