The Power of the Tongue

Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 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. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell” (James 3:3-6).

Because humans have been created in the image of the God whose words are so powerful He can create and frame our world out of nothing (Hebrews 11:3), death and life are in the power of our tongues.

Consider several Bible passages which illustrate the immense power of a misused tongue:

  • Like a small bit in a horse’s mouth (James 3:3), your tongue will determine the direction of your life.

  • Like a tiny rudder in a huge ocean-going vessel (James 3:4), your tongue will determine whether or not your life shipwrecks.

  • Like a little match struck in a dry forest (James 3:5-6), your tongue can quickly create an inferno of destruction.

  • Like a razor-sharp sword (Psalm 57:4), your tongue can cut others deeply and quickly.

  • Like a poisonous snake (Psalm 140:3), your tongue can inflict an unexpected and lethal wound on another.

  • Like the wind of a violent storm (Job 8:2), your tongue can leave a swath of debris and destruction.

  • Like a deep pit from which another may never be rescued (Proverbs 22:14), your tongue may ensnare another.

  • Like a scourge (Job 5:21), your words can punish others leaving them humiliated and hurting.

A bit. A rudder. A match. A sword. A poisonous snake. A violent storm. A deep pit. A scourge.

Truly, “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

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Author: jchowning

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