We are interrupting our Follow Me!, series for this special broadcast.
That picture, up there in the featured image, is my yesterday; unfortunately, that is MY arm! I am 57 years old, and yesterday I had my first ever IV. This little bugger right here was the culprit, 2.5 mm of sheer terror:
That sucker is a kidney stone. I have only ever had two, and yesterday was the 2d one. All I can say is that for such a little bitty thing, they cause pain way out of proportion to their size. Praise God in that each time I have had one, it has passed with amazing speed; I hear of people taking days to pass one. They doped me up, flushed me out, and voila…there it was!
It may sound shocking that such a little thing can cause so much grief. Yet, if we read God’s Word, that should not shock us at all. In fact, James wrote some things in his Epistle concerning very small things that can wreak havoc, and I thought the illustration fit rather well. None of this is new, as I have posted it all before; but it came to mind as I lay on that exam table in the emergency room yesterday.
“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.” James 3:1-4
James apparently had strong feelings about the role of the tongue, or the words we speak, in the life of the believer. He actually mentions it in every single chapter of his book, in fact. He mentions it in the following passages: 1:19,26; 2:12; 3:5,6,8; 4:11; and 5:12.
Reading what James has to say about our speech and we can see the idea of the tongue not only being the reflection of what is in our hearts, but also representative of the depravity of our nature.
Also, since James’ primary objective with his Epistle seems to be to teach believers how to behave, it follows in line that one of his lessons here is that the ability to control one’s tongue is a mark of a mature believer.
Let’s just take a look at some of the thoughts God shared with us regarding the tongue in His Word..
When Paul was illustrating to us all our fallen condition, in Romans 3:13-15, he listed 5 organs of the body which are common vehicles for sin: throat, tongue, lips, mouth and feet. It seems very significant that four of the five have to do with our speech!
The tongue is described using many words in Scripture: wicked, deceitful, perverse, filthy, corrupt, flattering, slanderous, gossiping, blasphemous, foolish, boasting, and many others.
Jesus even had thoughts about our tongues
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12:36,37
Our words are similar to a sound wave broadcast into the air. Eventually, that sound wave will reach the far parts of space in a never-ending journey; not only that but the trip cannot be canceled. Once that sound wave or our words start their journey, they cannot be brought back to the source and packed away.
What do our words say about our walk with Christ? If our words are a reflection of our heart, then what do we reveal about our heart when we speak?
Also here James is teaching the point that one of the ways we illustrate Christian maturity is by learning to control our tongue.
This seems rather like the two greatest commandments, the ones given by Jesus to the questioning Scribe in Matthew Chapter 22:35-40. When the scribe was attempting to trip Jesus up by pinning Him down to stating one commandment as more weighty than another, Jesus neatly rolled them all up in two simple directives: Love God above all else, and love one’s neighbor as oneself. The reason He did this was to show that by doing these two things, all other requirements would naturally follow as an outflow.
The tongue is like that. We can see in Verse 2 of our passage James stating that if a man can learn to control his tongue, he can control his entire body. James doesn’t seem to mean this in a literal sense, but in a metaphorical sense regarding the whole of our behavior. In other words, if what issues from our mouth tends to be God-honoring and God-exalting, then likely the rest of our behavior will be as well. Then he moves on to show two very clear examples of the smallest of things exercising the greatest of control.
The first example is that of a horse. It’s quite amazing, really that an animal weighing in at over a half a ton can be easily controlled by a 100-pound rider simply through a tiny metal bit in their mouth. Likewise, the direction and course of a large ship can be controlled by no more than a small rudder which is only a fraction of the size of the ship.
Our tongues and our speech are like the bit or the rudder. They are only a small part of us physically, but they can and do turn us in whatever direction they point. If our speech is Christlike, then we will be likewise Christlike. If our speech is the opposite, then our behavior will be as well.
I actually have more I could say on this, but I know everybody starts fading out if there are too many words…so I’m out for now. FYI, I’m back to normal now. Stones come in fast and leave just about as fast. Be blessed.