Study Notes on James 3:3-5

Horses have bits and bridles in their mouths so that we can control and guide their large body. And the same with mighty ships, though they are massive and driven by fierce winds, yet they are steered by a tiny rudder at the direction of the person at the helm. And so the tongue is a small part of the body yet it carries great power! Just think of how a small flame can set a huge forest ablaze. James 3:3-5 (TPT)

Controlling the tongue is a life saving discipline, whether your own or other’s. God gives us wisdom and the Holy Spirit to direct us. Our Pilot will steer us in the right direction no matter how strong the winds of opposition may be. But we have to give in to let Him have the control. Such a tiny thing with great consequence. A beautiful forest can be taken out with a tiny spark, and a thoughtless word can break a heart.

I like to be in control. I am a leader at work. As I followed my career journey, I left the self-conscious little girl behind and learned to lead with confidence. Ever since I came to know Jesus as a young adult, I have struggled to let go of control. “I can figure it out…” “I’ve got this…”. My mouth leads with words to direct others as well as myself. I am learning that this control is a false sense of safety. I can only control so much. And people will let you down. Words and choices of others throw me off course too easily. I am not a very good pilot it seems. Through prayer and soaking in God’s Word I am learning that by humbling myself before Him and giving Him the lead, there is less struggling to stay on course, and more peace. Fewer words are said that I regret and more words are spoken with graceful intention. I am more aware of the devastating self talk that can bring darkness in my own heart. When I let God be the light, the way ahead is more clear. I want to prevent the forest fires. If I set a fire with my tongue, I want it to be a Holy Fire that turns hearts toward Jesus.

Lord, Keep my tongue bridled for You. Build in me the discipline I need to speak words when they are right and keep silent when they are not. Give me strength to resist being pulled off course with gossip or complaining. I struggle to speak life in those moments. Help me to stay on course with You. Give me the wisdom and grace to be disciplined and not judgmental of others. Help me to see the forest from the trees and be aware of the spark that can destroy. In Jesus’ name amen.

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