Holding the Reins
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts…no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:3, 5, 8
Back in May Bruce and I went to a friend’s ranch in Georgia. It had been decades since I had been on a horse but I had the desire to ride one. I was very nervous and extremely tentative since my experience would be based on the combined efforts of my guidance and his discipline. If I didn’t hold on tightly and firmly to the reins and bridle connected to the bit in his mouth, he could rear up and run wild anytime. It all ended well because I was very intentional in my direction, and the horse was very obedient and disciplined. It was a wonderful experience!
How many times do we ride into a situation bare back? We haven’t saddled up with thought, prayer and self-discipline. We have chosen to speak on a topic that has never been tamed in our heart. We gallantly gallop up to someone and use harmful words that pierce the soul of another. Sometimes we invite others to jump on our horse as we run circles around the issue. James teaches that without Christ our words have the power to destroy and tear down. Christ teaches us that we are to speak as if we are speaking on God’s behalf. Our words must be seasoned with the flavor of the Spirit instead of the distaste of the flesh. ‘How strange that the tongue is able to speak praises to our Lord and Father at one time, and then it breaks out into curses against other people. We should have the same attitude of respect for fellow human beings as we have for God, because they are created in his image’ (Life Application New Testament Commentary, p. 1082).
The more we can intentionally hold the reins of our tongue the calmer the ride will be in our spiritual pastures. James tells us that our tongue is full of great boasting. The definition for boasting is to glorify oneself in speech; talk in a self-admiring way. We exalt and glorify ourselves by tearing down another.
"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world...what counts is a new creation." Gal. 6:14-15.
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