Summary: James teaches that a small briddle for a horese, a small rudder for a ship, a small tongue in comparrison to an out of control tongue warns us of the tremendous dangers of the tongue.
1. Open your bible to James 3:3-6.
2. The title of our lesson: “Little things that illustrate the power of the tongue”!
3. James 3:3-6 is filled with visual images.
4. The three images that James uses illustrate the point that since they are small and yet control things much larger than they are then the tongue, even though small, has control over many things larger than it is.
5. Let’s begin our discussion of these three small things.
I. FIRST, JAMES 3:2&3 REFERS TO A SMALL BRIDLE BEING USED TO CONTROL A HORSE WHICH IS MUCH LARGER!
1. Let’s read James 3:2&3, “2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.”
2. In verse 2 James refers to the spiritually mature Christian, who is working hard to control their tongue, as one who will become capable of “bridling the whole body”.
3. James in verse 3 refers to putting a bit in the horse’s mouth to be able to turn about the horse’s body.
4. The average horse will weigh about 1,000 pounds, plus or minus. He is made up of flesh, bones and muscles.
5. Even though he is big and strong a “bit attatched to a bridle”, which weighs only a few ounces, can be used to guide to the right or left or bring to a stop a large horse.
6. This illustration that James uses is particularly appropriate, because the bit lies on top of a horse’s tongue, and when attached to the bridle and reins, it is possible for the rider using that bit to easily make the horse obey. Controlling horses’ mouths controls their heads, which, in turn, direct their entire body as well.
7. The lesson for each Christian is to understand how our mouths have so much control over us. If our Christianity seems true, but we cannot guide our tongue then our religion is vain, as James 1:26 declares.
8. Let’s turn to a few bible passages that provide examples of God’s people making an effort to bridle their tongues.
(1) Turn to Psalm 39:1. Here, King David made the pledge that he would bridle his tongue. Christians need to tell themselves that they are going to bridle their tongue.Let’s read Psalm 39:1. “I said, “I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me.”
(2) Turn to Psalm 120:1&2. Here, the writer of the Psalm prayed that he would properly bridle his tongue. Christians need to pray for God to help them bridle their tongue. Let’s read Psalm 120:1&2. “1 In my distress I cried to the LORD, And He heard me. 2 Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips And from a deceitful tongue.”
(3) Turn to Psalm 141:3. This is another prayer of David’s for God to help in bridling his tongue. Prayer, along with appealing to the powerful strength of God, causes you to think more strongly about bridling your tongue. Let’s read Psalm 141:3. “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”
(4) Turn to Job 27:4. Here, Job makes the statement that he will bridle his tongue. This is another example to motivate Christians to state verbally that they are going to bridle their tongue. Speaking to our self and to others about our commitment will motivate us to put forth more effort in bridling our tongue. Let’s read Job 27:4, “My lips will not speak wickedness, Nor my tongue utter deceit.”
II. SECODNLY, JAMES 3:4 PRESENTS A SMALL RUDDER FOR GUIDING A SHIP TO ILLUSTRATE THE POWER OF THE TONGUE IN WORKING TOWARD CONTROLLING THE WHOLE BODY.
1. Let’s read James 3:4, “Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.”
2. The largest ships of that day were small compared to the gigantic ocean liners and warships of modern times.
(1) But the ship in which Paul traveled on his voyage to Rome had a total of 276 persons on board, including the crew, soldiers, and prisoners (Acts 27:37), indicating it was a fairly large vessel. That ship also had a large cargo.
(2) In any case, James’s point is that, compared to its overall size, a ship’s rudder is very small, yet can easily steer the vessel wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.
3. In the KJV the word “helm” refers to the rudder that was attatched to the back of the ship.