Small; Yet Powerful

James 3:4-6 CEB “Consider ships: They are so large that strong winds are needed to drive them. But pilots direct their ships wherever they want with a little rudder. In the same way, even though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts wildly. Think about this: A small flame can set a whole forest on fire. The tongue is a small flame of fire, a world of evil at work in us. It contaminates our entire lives. Because of it, the circle of life is set on fire. The tongue itself is set on fire by the flames of hell.”

This is definitely something to consider. Our words may seem small; but they have a huge impact. For this reason, the tongue is described as something that’s evil and flame of fire. What we say makes a difference, positive or negative, in another person’s life.

We often don’t really think about what we’re saying. We’ll just say something because “that’s what the person needed to hear.” Isn’t it amazing how our seemingly small words can actually change the course of someone’s life? There is great power in our words. This is a reason, I believe, we see admonitions against saying anything that doesn’t point to God. (Proverbs 8:13 ,2 Corinthians 8:7, 1 Timothy 4:12, Ephesians 4:29, Titus 3:2-3, 1 Peter 3:10, and more).

What comes out of our mouth shows our character, more often than not. James’ letter is cut and dry in several places, including this one. He is also being inclusive of everyone, including himself. The human tongue (which helps us form words for speaking) is a very powerful muscle on it’s own. Add the power of communicating and we have a weapon more powerful than any human weapon.

The Talmud describes the tongue as something so dangerous that it has to be kept hidden behind two barriers (teeth and mouth). Our words have tremendous power and guide us in many ways. The words that we speak come from our mind. The tongue is dangerous because it can tear a person down or build them up.

Our challenge today is to continue looking at how we speak to people. This means that we do even more than simply watching what we say. We actually pay attention to what we think about other people. When we pay attention to our thoughts, we don’t have to think so much about what we’re going to say because we’ll speak, think and act out of true love for God and for other people.

James is challenging; but this can be accomplished with the Holy Spirit of God working in us and through us.

Lord, Thank you for the incredible gift of speaking. Show me where I can be more loving in my words, thoughts and actions so I can better reflect you to the world. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Published by

Ryan Stratton

Ryan Stratton is a pastor in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He serves with his wife, Amanda, along with their children. He writes about life, faith, and leadership through his blog.

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