Lesson 12

The Epistle of James

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

3:2 For in many things we all stumble. If anyone doesn't stumble in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also. 3:3 Indeed, we put bits into the horses' mouths so that they may obey us, and we guide their whole body. 3:4 Behold, the ships also, though they are so big and are driven by fierce winds, are yet guided by a very small rudder, wherever the pilot desires. 3:5 So the tongue is also a little member, and boasts great things. See how a small fire can spread to a large forest! 3:6 And the tongue is a fire. The world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire by Gehenna.

Today's Lesson 

Teachers will receive the heavier judgment because they have received a greater revelation of God. They have been given the greater responsibility. The life of a teacher will be measured and tried by the world because their lives should be the closer to that of our Lord. They have the greater need to guard their tongues because their words have influence to those around them.


The perfect man is the man that is able to bridle his mouth and to only speak the words that God has given him. In fact, with the words of our mouth, our whole body is guided. The words we speak betray the nature of our heart. If our hearts are pure, our words will be pure. If our hearts are dark with sin and temptation, our words will reflect that sin.


The tongue is like the rudder of a great ship. The rudder is small in comparison with everything else on the ship. Yet, it is the rudder that the pilot uses to steer the vessel. Small changes to the rudder create large course corrections.


Or, if you will, the tongue is a fire. From a small fire, a great and mighty forest can be destroyed. The tongue boast great things, but most of what it achieves is iniquity. The unbridled tongue defiles the whole body. Because of its weakness, the tongue is the barometer of the soul. The things we say betray more about us than any other single measurement.


Yet, this is one of the lessons that we never truly seem to grasp. We get busy during our hectic days and we fall into old patterns of speech. Then it is a short step into old patterns of thought. Inevitably we are stuck in old patterns of habitual sin.


But James gives us two clues that present us with hope in the face of this overpowering dilemma. Our mouths need a bit so that our whole person might be turned and controlled from it. Who will hold the reigns? Our tongue is like the small rudder that turns the whole ship. Who will our pilot be that holds the rudder? Left to our own nature we are like a wild animal or the rudderless ship. But, with God in control of our tongue and our hearts, we are like the ship in the hands of a master of the sea. With our Lord's hands on the tiller of our life, we can skirt the dangerous shoals that would otherwise be our ruin.


Without the controlling influence of God living in us, we are powerless to control our tongue and our lives. By ourselves we are helpless. But God created our tongue. He is the author of human language and the He alone can control our hearts. Within those that will be saved He implants His word of truth. He is the Creator of our bodies and He alone can lead us to the existence that we were created to experience.

Can you give God the reins to guide your tongue with the love of Christ?


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