I was on the small side as a young rider, and I was put on a 16 hands plus thoroughbred. I broke from the trees on the opposite side of a hundred acre paddock, the horse saw home, and bolted. I grabbed one rein in both hands and tried to wheel the horse with all of my weight dragging on the metal bit in its mouth, but it was useless. The horse was still uncontrollable!

James likens our “tongue” (what we say) to a bit in a horse’s mouth (James 3:3). As the bit can be used to direct the whole animal to obey our will(!), so our tongue can direct our lives in the path of true wisdom. I didn’t have much success with the actual bit and horse! My experience has been that we don’t have much more success with the metaphorical “bit and horse” either!

With our tongues we utter selfishness, insults, lies, curses, anger, hatred and gossip (and even if not out loud, then in our own hearts and minds – which is just as bad as the real thing, according to Jesus!), that are an offence to God our Father, a dagger to the hearts of other people, make us hateful, and put us in the realm of the evil and demonic (James 3:8,14-15)!

What’s to be done?…. James says that the antidote to our evil tongue is a wisdom that we don’t have, but which “comes down from above”, that is characterised by purity, peace, gentleness, forbearance, mercy and goodness (3:17). This was all personified in only one human being, Jesus Christ. Yet in His death on the cross, He who only ever spoke truth and purity, was judged for every evil that we have ever uttered, so that we might be forgiven and accounted as true and pure! 

This converts us and our tongues to thanksgiving, and to only speak His truth and purity.

Grace and peace, Jonathan.