Turn the ship, cap'n! Turn the ship!
Titanic. Why is it so tragic? Because there's every possibility disaster could have been prevented through improved communication between various individuals. We shake our heads over the series of human errors that resulted in such horror, yet every day we make the same kinds of communication errors. We delay taking action because it's inconvenient, because our pride gets in the way, or because we don't believe the messenger.
Think of your life as a ship. Depending on your mood and personality, it might be a Princess Cruise, or a sailing ship of old, or a fancy private yacht. (If the first boat that comes to mind is a leaky rowboat, please seek immediate assistance and/or chocolate.)
Ships are directed by rudders - flat plates attached to the ship which, when angled, deflect the flow of water and turn the ship. The helmsman, or governor, has a tiller or a wheel attached to the rudder that enables him to shift the rudder's position below the water. In our imaginary role play, you are the helmsman, and your tongue is the rudder. (Sorry, you Princess cruise people, you're not going to get to play shuffleboard on the Ledo deck for this exercise.)
Let's check out what James said about the tongue:
2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.
4 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.
5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
(James 3:2-8 from New International Version)
Your tongue can be used to create or to destroy, to bless or to curse. You can line what you say up with God's word and chart a course for joy, peace, love, and the abundant life. Or you can line your words up with your flesh, your circumstances, and the enemy of your soul and drive yourself (and everyone along for the ride with you) right smack into an iceberg.
Are you on course? Do you like the direction your life is headed?
If not, take this week with us of focusing on language - real words, fictional words, spoken words, all kinds of words - and listen, really listen, to what you say. Are the words coming out of your mouth in agreement with the words God says about you? If not, it's time to change course. Don't delay!