Most of us have probably heard the saying “It’s the little things that matter,” and it’s usually in regard to a relationship, and the success it brings. But what about spiritually? Can we apply this to our relationship with Christ? Family and friends?
James tells us about some little things that make a big impact in chapter 3, verse 3, “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.” When we stop to think about this, it’s pretty impressive.
I did some online research and found out it’s nearly impossible to pin down a horse’s strength, but some large breeds have been known to pull up to three times their own weight. Yet, even a child can hold the reigns and make it go where they choose!
James uses a similar analogy in verse 4 “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.”
There is a vivid picture here of how small things make a large impact on the outcome of situations, and while these are both positive comparisons, the same is true with a negative outcome as well. It only takes a spark to burn down a forest! Verse 5 of James warns us that our tongue may be small, but it can do great damage if it’s not controlled. “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!”
This should be a reminder for us to keep our conversation in check. Are we mindful of our speech? Are we aware of the impact it can have on others? When we are led by the Holy Spirit, and not our own desires, that is like having a bit in our mouth. We, like a broke horse, can be led in the direction the Father would have us go.
The tongue will take you in a direction you do not want to go, and make it very difficult to get back on course, if you make no attempt to tame it. It will also lead to unwanted consequences for you, and those around you. Just as an unruly horse is a danger to those around it, or a drifting ship that cannot be maneuvered, so is our words that are allowed to flow out untamed.
Now, how do we tame our tongue? Great question, because James 3:8 says “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” So what do we do?
Well… we can’t tame it, but through Christ and His work in us by the Holy Spirit, it can be done! James goes on to tell us throughout his letter that we receive wisdom from above, and this produces the fruit of righteousness. We should pray, resist the devil and he will flee. He also states we are to submit ourselves to God, draw nigh to Him, and He will draw nigh to us. He will help us!
Let me encourage you today to not get overwhelmed with thinking of all the things you shouldn’t say, and start thinking of all the things you can! The tongue can be just as powerful when used to speak kindness. What compliments have you not given? What praise have you held back? What encouragement have you not shared? Use this ‘little member’ to build up, rather than tear down! Use it to be a witness for Christ, and share His love with someone today!
Rev. Cathleen N. Cathcart is the pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg. This the sermon she delivered this past Sunday.