A Very Small Rudder

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. – James 3:3-5 NIV

I am glad I am not able to remember all the times my mouth has gotten me into trouble. I am sure there were times when I did not even realize what I was doing, but there were plenty of times when I knew exactly what I was doing. Have you ever been angry with someone, and stewed over it for days, trying to think of the ultimate hurtful thing to say to them the next time you saw them? We all have.

The two examples in this text paint a clear picture of how one of the smallest parts of our body has the power to steer the rest of our body into either a good or a bad situation.

When I was a kid if someone called you a name, the popular comeback at the time was, “What you say is what you are!” I didn’t even realize it at the time, but wow, what an accurate comeback. When someone upsets us, it is up to us whether we compound the situation or end it right there. For as long as we continue to let them upset us, we are what we are. We will continue to think of ways to upset them in return, or worse, turn around and upset someone else who isn’t even involved in the original disagreement. It does not have to be that way.

The pilot of a ship was not born with the knowledge of how to steer such a huge craft. He spent time in the classroom learning and training under the watchful eye of the more experienced captains. Jesus is our experienced captain. Troubled waters are a fact of life, but if we follow his example we can learn to use our words to steer ourselves into calmer waters. We can learn to use our words to forgive and forget. We can use them to build up instead of tear down.

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook. – Proverbs 18:4 NIV

Prayer: Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea – Lord, you are mighty. (Psalm 93:4 NIV) Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me and rescue me from the mighty waters (Psalm 144:7), lead me beside quiet waters, restore my soul, and lead me in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. (Psalm 23) Amen.