A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!
It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. (THE MESSAGE)
Shortly after midnight on 2nd September 1666, a baker called Thomas Farriner of Pudding Lane in London, went to bed not realising the fire in his ovens was still burning. Before too long, the Great Fire of London had begun and a significant part of the city was destroyed. From a small beginning had come a great and disastrous event.
That is the sort of reasoning James uses in describing the dangers of unwise speech. Our tongues are not huge in size but can be huge in impact. A careless or malicious word can be the spark which goes on to cause great damage.
That is why we are to be careful in what we say, whether it be a preacher, a counsellor, or a friend or family member. True, we may apologise for our harmful words, but we cannot unsay them. So many people bear wounds and scars from the lacerating words of someone who has just spoken what is on their mind without thought.
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Boasting that we are the types who say what is on our mind is a sign of immaturity not boldness. Our tongues need taming, not free expression. Our tongues can bring people down or lift them up. What we say and how we say it reveals the sorts of people we are.