Words Can Hurt
We were all taught at a young age that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, and it’s the biggest lie ever. There have been many times when I would have rather had broken bones than to face some of the words that were said to me, or even some of the things that I have said to others. Have you ever had that moment of “AH, I want to take back what I said…”? I would love to have a fishing hook on some of the words that I have said to be able to reel them back in before people receive them. Words are dangerous. The tongue is powerful. In the 3rd chapter of the book of James we find some powerful analogies for the tongue.
Bite On This Bit for a Bit
Have you ever watched a horse being broken? It is interesting to watch. I have heard many horse trainers and breakers say, “You’ve got to let them know who is boss”! The bit isn’t the most comfortable thing for them to put into their mouth, and it controls their every move. It actually takes a lot of time for the horse to even allow the bit to be placed into their mouth. James is saying that God must have control of our tongue or our tongue will have control of us. Something as powerful as a horse can be controlled by something as small as a bit. There isn’t anything special about the bit. It’s just a metal bar, but it controls the entire body. Many times we need to bite down on our tongues and watch what we say. I even have a little reminder that runs through my head: KYMS, or Keep Your Mouth Shut. Yes, there are things that need to be said but more times than not we say things that need to go unsaid.
Bon Voyage to My Tongue
With a simple Google search you can find that a cruise ship typically weighs between 20,000 and 60,000 tons. TONS. Lets do the math together. There are 2,000 pounds in a ton. That means a cruise ship weighs between 40,000,000 and 120,000,000 pounds. Don’t ask me how they float. This is something I don’t think I’ll ever comprehend, but the amazing thing is that they are controlled by something small in comparison to the vastness of the ship—a rudder. The rudder allows the captain to steer this massive vehicle through open waters and narrow channels. A typical car is about the size of the rudder, the control mechanism. James refers to the rudder to remind us that our words can direct us into a variety of situations. Our words can take us to places and into situations that we do not want to enter. They can navigate us into a raging, stormy sea. However, our words can comfort, encourage, and allow us to cruise in steady and calm seas as well.
It only takes a second to strike a match and set a field on fire, but its effects are detrimental to the land. It can take hours for firefighters to put out the flames, if the land is lucky enough to have that assistance. Our words, like little sparks that ignite an entire field, can take months, and even years, to heal. It only takes a spark, but the fires will leave their mark. It is the same when we do not guard our words. They leave a mark that, in extreme cases, will never heal. Our words can spread destruction rapidly. Recently, I had a friend who left a leaf blower plugged into an outlet in his garage. The leaf blower shorted and caused a fire. Luckily he put out the fire fast enough and it didn’t burn down his house. However, he keeps the windows down in his car when he parks in the garage, and because of all of the smoke damage, the insurance company TOTALED his car. Just because the fire was put out didn’t mean that everything was ok. There were still long lasting effects. Our words carry the same weight.
Controlling It All
From the bite of the bit to the rudder of a ship to a little spark, James finalizes chapter 3 by reminding us that we praise God and curse men with the same tongue, and taming it is impossible apart from God. A prayer that I constantly pray is actually a Psalm, Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Oh that God would guard our mouths, that he would literally take the reigns of the bit that is in our mouth, that He would be the Captain of our ship controlling even the smallest thing that carries so much power and control, and that He would extinguish the sparks before they even start fires for His Glory.
About The Author: Holden McCrackin
Holden is married to Krystle, his high school sweetheart. He is the father of Elijah Kale and currently spends a fair amount of time changing diapers. He has been serving as a student pastor in Oklahoma for 10 years and is currently the student pastor at Immanuel in Duncan, Oklahoma. He loves to be outdoors playing golf, hunting, fishing, running, or really any other outdoor activity. He loves to travel and go on mission trips. One of his favorite countries is Ethiopia. He has a passion for missions & evangelism.