ODJ: speaking well

May 10, 2015 

READ: James 3:1-12 

Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way (v.2).

In May 2014, 8 year old Abby Porter was in a car being driven by her mother when her mum suffered a medical emergency. Abby immediately grabbed the wheel and was able to control the vehicle until a police officer helped stop the car safely. After the event, the officer related how he told Abby to put the automatic car in PARK, to which she responded, “I don’t know how!”

What a perfect demonstration of the power of the steering wheel: a brave but completely inexperienced little girl was able to safely direct herself and her mother to safety!

James compares the tongue not to a steering wheel but to a ship’s rudder: “A small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go” (James 3:4). That relatively small part of the vessel controls where it will head. James warns of the negative implications of misusing our speech, comparing it to a small spark that sets a forest ablaze and to a restless evil (vv.5,7-8). But we shouldn’t overlook what James writes in verse 2, that as God empowers us to control our words, we can control ourselves in every other way as well!

Misusing words can bring about great evil, but I find it encouraging that controlling our words and using them wisely can bring about great good—for ourselves and others. Proverbs 12:6 says that “the words of the wicked are like a murderous ambush, but the words of the godly save lives.” Proverbs 16:24 reveals that “kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

So we have not one but two good reasons for speaking with care: to avoid great harm, but also to bring about great good. And we have a great God who helps to steer us towards good words that glorify Him!

—Peter Chin

365-day-plan: Job 38:1-41

Take a look at Ephesians 4:29 to see how Paul advised the church in Ephesus to use their words to encourage others. 
How have you seen words cause harm or destruction in your life or in the life of others? What can you do today to bless others with your speech to God’s glory?