Taming the tongue
For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. -James 3:2-3
In my Intervarsity bible study we have been going through the book of James chunk by chunk. I have never before learned so much from the perspectives of different Christians from so many walks of life than in this bible study. I am learning more than ever before what it means to leave Sunday morning church or a bible study and actually understand practical ways to apply the word to my life. It has been illuminating and transforming to learn from them and with them. Last week we went through James 3, and Christ illuminated a couple new analogies. Being a horse lover all my life (since the age of 4) God has continuously used that love to teach me about his much greater love. This is a passage I was already familiar with, however in reading through it this time and talking it out, the Holy Spirit revealed new truths to me.
The first concerned the actual subject matter, taming our tongues, in light of a bit and what it symbolizes. After thinking about it how cool this analogy is in my life. Each horse has to have its own specific bridle and bit. When it doesn’t have both, fitting together, the horse won’t perform the way it is meant to. In this passage I believe James was using this example to draw out the importance of our specific walks with Christ. For each person it is totally different how we worship, pray, read our bibles, etc. And when we are simply trying to “wear others bridles” we prevent the Holy Spirit from working in us with all his power. We restrain him. This passage reminded me that it is crucial that my walk with Christ be about Christ in light of my life. Not about other friends, people I see at church, bible study leaders, famous leaders, or anyone. Only Christ. How I choose to worship brings glory to him because he created me to worship him. He didn’t create me to copy others. And specifically in light of this whole lesson we see the freedom in taming the tongue. When we come to know and worship Christ for who he is, not just because of how we watch someone else doing it, the Holy Spirit begins to change us into his image, and through that change our hearts, our motives, and ultimately our words-which reflect our hearts. (For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Luke 6:45). Just like how the bit frees the horse to perform with beauty, Christ work in bridling our tongues frees us to be his vessels and clearly reveal his love.
As we all discussed further we started to talk about how hard it is and how important it is how we talk around different people. We discussed it in terms of different friend groups, professionals, at work, and at home. In my mind this discussion linked back to the horse analogy, specifically concerning competitions vs. being at home. It reminded me of how differently the horses act and carry themselves. And what is cool is that it is all because of the bit. Each competition or event requires different bridles, bits, reigns, etc. And the whole mix together creates a horse that is ready and secure in competing, or in just being themselves. As I saw this analogy I realized my own life is so similar. When I go out into the world, depending on where, I have to be prepared. That is why every morning I have to get on my knees and tell the Lord I NEED his presence in my life, and admit to him I cannot do it on my own. And yes sometimes it does matter which group of people I will be with or what we will be doing, but no matter what we need the grace that Christ gives us to tame our tongues and love well each and every day, no matter what situation. I need more grace when I am in my workplace than home with my family. I need more grace in secular settings than hanging out with my Christian friends. And just like a horse is prepared, Christ prepares us with the words and wisdom to go and be his witnesses…to the ends of the earth.