Don’t Make This Mistake.

James begins chapter three with this truth, “For all of us make many mistakes” (James 3.2).

That statement is true of yesterday’s blog article. I made a mistake and skipped a few verses ahead of the Bible passage. The videos and articles may not match for a couple of days, as I get them back in order.

Not only do I have problems with matching dates and articles, but James’ next words also apply to me.

Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is mature, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle (James 3.2).

Unfortunately, I have made plenty of mistakes in my speech. How about you? Let’s learn from James and make some changes in our behavior.

The Power of Speech

The truth of James’ pictures speaks to the power of speech.

If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies.

Or look at ships: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits (James 3.3-5).

Horses and ships are guided by comparatively small devices. The human tongue is very small in comparison to the body, but it often directs our behavior.

My father lived by a saying that he drilled into his sons. He said, “A man’s word is his bond.”

I have attempted to live up to my father’s saying because I witnessed his example of doing what he said he would do, even if it was difficult.

Unfortunately, there is a tragic side to James’ analogy.

I remember officiating a funeral for a young man who thought he knew karate. He lost his life in a bar fight to a man who knew karate and delivered a one-kick hit to the head.

Like so many bar fights, this one began with words. James is right about the controlling nature of words.

Fiery Speech

Almost everyone can recall a time when their words caused harm to others. James illustrates this phenomenon.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire.

The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of life, and itself set on fire by hell (James 3.5b-6).

James reveals the destructive nature of the tongue. Let’s analyze the words he uses to describe the ill effects of the tongue.

Iniquity – Rudy Ross correctly identifies iniquity with our inside condition gone wrong. So did Jesus.

Jesus said, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12.34).

Our inside condition needs to be controlled by the Spirit if we are to escape iniquity.

Stains the Body – Bar fights that end in death are extreme illustrations of the tongue’s potential to stain the body.

Gossip is a common way that the tongue stains humans. Think of how you feel after engaging in gossip.

Satanic Influence – James states that “hell” or the demonic is at the root of harmful speech.

When we consider that the devil is behind harmful speech, we should seriously evaluate the way we willingly engage in it.

When we take a good look at the harmful nature of the misuse of the tongue, we should ask the Spirit to control our speech.

How to Control the Tongue

James declares that “no one can tame the tongue.” Let’s put this statement in context and attempt an answer.

For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species,

But no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With it we bless the Lord Father, and with it we curse people, made in the likeness of God.

From the same mouth comes a blessing and a curse. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. (James 3.7-10).

Rudy Ross attempts to keep an ongoing conversation with the Lord throughout his day. He knows that it is difficult to say the wrong things and talk to Jesus at the same time.

Frank Laubach said that keeping a moment-by-moment mental conversation with God was the hardest thing he ever tried. He also said, “It makes everything else easier to do.”

Not only will this help our speech, but it will benefit all aspects of our lives. Let’s try it out.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

Please email your prayer request to The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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