One small member that is very big
The Apostle starts out in James chapter three by saying ... "Be not many masters" meaning that there should not be to many Bible teachers because not only would there be confusion but expositors of the word of God will be judged in a more comprehensive way because they are representing Jesus Christ.
I have been lead to many projects for God but it was not until recently that I was called to be a teacher of the Bible. It took God almost 55 years to prime me for this position. I have to laugh at many of these people that are young and straight out of Bible college. These students think that because of this degree they are ready to preach. Sometimes I say to myself, " You have no idea." If I started teaching at age 25 I would have been kicked out of the door at age 26. Do not teach the Bible to other people unless God throws you in a closet and locks the door.
James then talks about control and the subject of offending other people. The Apostle then writes about how people put bits in the horses' months for the purpose of obeying us and of course the person has the ability to turn the horses' whole body. James writes this because he is trying to make a point about our tongues.
Then James writes about a pilot being able to control his ship. They may be big, driven of fierce winds yet these ships are turned about with a very small helm. Once again the Apostle draws an analogy to make a point about our tongues.
At this point the Apostle James talks about what he really desires to impart to his readers. He explains that the tongue is a little member but boasts great things. He likens our speech to ... "How great a matter a little fire kindleth." This passage actually says the tongue is a fire and a world of iniquity or sin. The tongue is a small member but has the ability to defile the whole body. The tongue can be evil and corrupt the soul. Let me just quote the original text so you can read the passage and perhaps make reference to it in this particular study of the Bible.
(1) "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. (2) For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. (3) Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. (4) Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. (5) Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! (6) And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell." James 3: 1 - 6.
I wrote in my previous two articles that faith without works is dead. Emotions are funny because even as Christians we could loss our temper. That is just one example of what could happen but James urges us to censor our tongues. We certainly do not want to use our tongues as weapons over other people.
In verse one the Apostle writes about teachers and the basic tone of the words are do not teach your own sentiment to impart a message. What we think or feel is not necessarily what the Bible teaches. We need to speak or write with the spirit of humility as learners delivering a message to people. The reason I just used the word "People" is because you would be surprised as to who is listening in on the presentation of the Bible message.
If a preacher / teacher sets themselves up as judges and censures the word of God they will incur the greater condemnation. If the leader just desires to tickle the ears of their listeners and for all practical purposes throws the Bible out then they will be judged for misleading a group of people. By the way a singer or a television host can gather disciples and mislead a multitude of people. There are other types of areas that can also mislead but I thought I would list two to give you the general idea of what I am trying to portray to you in principle.
Think twice before you accept a leadership position because you have the ability to mislead people with your tongue away from God. Of course our judgment is going to be more strict and severe because we are called to a higher standard. On the other hand if we are teaching the word of God and are faithful, inspiring other people to give their hearts over to Jesus Christ then God will be well pleased with us; however, the standards are higher than most leaders understand.
We are all capable of sin and when a leader sees his own mistakes and offences before God he will be far less apt to judge other people. If leaders are not right with God in one way or another they are justifying their sins and are self - deceivers rather than gentle guiders of the Bible in word and deed.
The reason we govern are tongues is to prove ourselves righteous before God and men. If we bridle our tongues we will have control over ourselves. If Christians do not offend others with their tongues (word) there is a good chance they will be seen as a sincere or advanced Christian. We must ask for wisdom and grace from God which enables us to rule our tongues. The result will be our responses to other people will be becoming for Jesus Christ.
If a huge horse has a small bit in his month this is a great example that we are large but the tongue is small and extremely powerful. Just like love and hate are powerful emotions our words can be pleasant or cause injury.
If a horse runs wild we will fall right off that animal. If we do not have control over our tongues we will hurt ourselves and other people. James also talks about the helm of the ship which is small. In like matter so is the tongue so the Apostle is trying to say our words govern the whole man.
If we make thirty to sixty thousand decisions per day we are saying a lot of words even if we are not verbally talking in a physical form. The key is to speak Godly words both silently and verbally. Our words form our soil to righteousness or a not so nice person. The tongue is a little member but it is capable of doing tremendous good or hurting someone in a very severe way. I have seen both examples and there is a vast difference. Think about this principle, we can make a huge difference in others for good or bad with our words (tongues).
Sometimes I can actually feel the demons when someone is talking to me and nothing but cursing comes out of his or her month. James uses terms such as ... "World of iniquity," ... "Defileth the whole body, ... "Setteth on fire the course of nature" and ... "Set on fire of hell." The whole body and soul can be thrust into transgressions by the tongue. I just listed four statements that James uses in this passage of the Bible. Almost anyone can figure out that these are very strong words to describe the damage our words can do to ourselves and other people. An entire country can be thrown into confusion by the tongues of people. Over here in America we have a divided nation to the depths I have never personally seen because of constant verbal fights (Tongues).
Demons are very tuned in to promoting bad words. The Apostle James uses the phrase, "And it is set on fire of hell" this was his way of saying the tongue / tongues can produce rage and hatred. This can only serve the purposes of the devil. We are here to serve the purposes of God.
If you do not feel you know the Lord in a personal way now may be a good time to accept Jesus Christ as your very own personal Savior and Lord by repenting of all your sins and inviting the Son of God into your life. If you just made that decision ask God to show you how to speak Godly words as you travel through life because although the tongue is small it can do big damage. On the other hand you can be a vessel for God by reading the Bible as hearers / doers of the word of God and be a tremendous blessing to others.
God Bless you,