“A Small Rudder” ( James 3: 5, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

“So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites.”

James compares the tongue to the rudder of a large ship, directing the ship according to “will of the pilot.” (James 3:4) He writes that the tongue is “a world of unrighteousness” that “pollutes the whole body.” (James 3:6) The tongue “sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6) James goes so far as to say that no one “can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8) Not only do we praise God with our tongue, we turn around and curse our neighbor with our tongue. “Praising and cursing come out of the same mouth.” (James 3:10)

Jesus says that what comes out of the mouth emerges from the heart of the person. James implies that the tongue itself has power to set the course of our life — the tongue is able to direct our behavior. Jesus is saying — it is not what comes from outside a person that pollutes us, but what lies within us. James is saying — our speech not only reflects our hearts, but also molds our hearts.

What we speak is our reality. Speak praises to our God, for our tongue has the power to change our heart.


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