A Tiny Rudder

How can something so small as a tiny rudder have such power? The Bible says in James 3:4 that “a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong.” In thinking about this lately, it comes to me that even though James 1:19 about being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, is a verse I think of often, I’m seeing it in a different way now. That small part of scripture can have such a huge impact on our lives, from both sides of the table. Here’s what I mean…

If we think of being quick to listen to the other side of the table, it makes a lot of sense. Of course, we should be considerate, listen to what someone else is saying, hear them out, and think before responding. In doing this, we will respond and not react…two very different things. In doing so, we can practice the Fruit of Self-Control if anger or anything else is possibly going to be a part of the conversation. But what about from our side of the table?—from inside our own minds? What about the conversation going on in our heads, all day, every day—all the voices we hear…voices from our past, our present, and our future…voices from people around us, and from the fire of hell itself? Yes, our enemy, Satan! Our enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy us. There is no doubt about that. And what’s one of the greatest tools he can use to do that? Our tongue! God’s Word calls it a flame of fire in James 3:6. If we are not quick to listen to what is going on in our very own head, and then be slow to speak it out of our own mouth, a world of wickedness that can corrupt our entire body can set our whole life on fire. Our tongue can build or ruin relationships. It can bring or steal peace. It can make or break a day. It almost seems to me, in this moment, that it’s more crucial to be listening and speaking slowly about what’s in our own head, than it is to listen to what others are saying. I’m not saying it’s not important to listen to others, but if we don’t curtail our own tongue, there may not be others around us for very long to even listen to. What others are saying is their business and makes or breaks their lives. What comes out of our mouth makes or breaks our lives. It seems like being very careful about what we are thinking, and then what we say about it, is crucial in having successful relationships.

We were created to love God, and to love others. We were created to enjoy relationships. So why wouldn’t our enemy set our whole life on fire by the very small, yet very powerful, part of us that can get us into the most trouble? My little finger rarely gets me into trouble, but sometimes my foot is involved…Open mouth, insert foot! We need our tongue to be still long enough to process what’s in our brain, and only then should we respond slowly to what we are “hearing.”

Searching And Noticing the Divine happens daily when living life and walking with our Father in the cool of the day. Yes, the Father left the Garden when Adam and Eve fell from grace. But when that grace was restored through Jesus Christ, our Father was then able to walk with us once again, daily, every moment. When listening to voices, let’s practice letting God’s voice, through His Word and His Holy Spirit, be the One to carefully guide us. Our Father took the power of the tongue away from the enemy. The question is, will we heed God’s warning about not giving it back? The Holy Spirit will be the filter from our brain to our tongue when we listen to Him and obey Him. This truly will help us live a more peace–filled life.

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.

James 3:2 (NLT)