James 3:1-12


"When we put bits in the mouths of horses to obey us we can turn the whole animal." (James 3:3)

James says consider the “horse”. The jockey can control the tremendous mighty horse by a little piece of metal stuck strategically over his tongue. Likewise your tongue controls the direction of your life wherever you want to go.

Then he says, in vs. 4 “Consider a ship”. "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." Like wise the tongue controls the direction of your life. If you don't like the way you're headed right now, change the way you talk.

James says in vs.5, “The tongue is small, it's a tiny part of the body ”, and because it's tiny we think it's insignificant. But it has tremendous power. My tongue controls the direction of my life.

"Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire ..." (James 3:5,6).

A careless word can destroy a life overnight. Thousands of lives. Gossip is like fire. It spreads quickly and it wrecks havoc. I wonder how many people because of a careless word have destroyed their marriage, or their career, or their reputation, or the reputation of another, or their church, or a friendship. The tongue not only has the power to direct where you go but also to destroy what you have if you don't learn to control it. Vs. 5 says the tongue … It's like a fire.’

James uses another illustration. He talks about a zoo. "All kinds of animals ... have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. [It's humanly impossible. Only God can do it.] It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." (vs.James 3:7-8) Of all the animals we've tamed, no man can tame the tongue, humanly speaking. He says it's restless. That means it's always liable to break out at any moment. You needs God's help!

James 3:9 "The tongue we praise our Lord and Father and with the same tongue we curse men who've been made in God's likeness. From the same mouth come praise and cursings. My brothers, this should not be."

It reveals my real character. Isn't it amazing how quickly your attitude can change? In one minute you're saying, "Praise the Lord", the next you're saying, "Shut up!"

James gives the answer in v. 11-12. He says consider the source. "Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water." The point is, whatever is in the well comes out in the water. Whatever is in the tree, comes out in the fruit. Whatever is in your heart [mind], comes out in your speech.

If you've got a problem with your tongue, it's much more serious that you think. You have a heart problem. A person with a harsh tongue has an angry heart. A person with a negative tongue has a fearful heart. A person with an overactive tongue has an unsettled heart. A person with a boasting tongue has an insecure heart. A person with a filthy tongue has an impure heart. A person who is critical all the time has a bitter heart.


1. Get a new heart

Ezekiel 18:31 "Rid yourself of all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit!"

Painting the outside of the pump doesn't make any difference if there is poison in the well. What I need is a fresh start. I need to let go of all the past and be born again and start over. I need to get a new heart.

How do I get a new heart? 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new person. The old has passed away. Behold all things have become new." New life, new heart, new spirit. When you come to Jesus Christ, He wipes out everything you've done in the past. Then, we need to pray like David prayed in Psalm 51 "Create in me a clean heart, O God" because what's in my heart is going to come out in my mouth.

2. Ask God for help every day.
Psalm 141:3 "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips."

You need supernatural power to control your tongue. You can't do it on your own. Your life is a living proof of that. A bit and a rudder must be under the hand of a strong arm. James is saying that the only way to get control of your tongue is let Jesus Christ have control of your heart.

3. Think before you speak
James 1:19 "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."

Engage your mind before you put your mouth in action. If you're quick to listen you will be slow to speak. If you're slow to speak, then you will be slow to become angry. If you have a problem with anger you need to work on being quick to listen and slow to speak. The result will be you'll be slow to anger.