3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 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. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (ESV)
Power of a Tongue
There are four important principles in today’s reading to illustrate the need to gain control of our tongues. Highlight or number them in your Bible. The first one is found in verses three and four. We see that although the tongue is small, it can do great damage. With a few small words we can cause someone great pain. The second principle is found in verse five. There we learn that the tongue can do irreparable damage. We can say things that hurt people in a way that permanently damages our relationship and ability to influence their lives positively. Third, we learn in verses seven and eight that if we are going to tame our tongues, we need the power of God. We cannot gain control of the tongue by using our own strength. Fourth, verses 9-12 tell us that the tongue has equal potential for good and evil. It can be used in great ways for God, or it can be a tool of Satan to do damage to the cause of Christ. So much damage in people’s lives and in the life of the church is done with the tongue. How is your tongue being used? Have you allowed the Spirit of God to control your tongue so that everything you say please God?
Observation: What do I see?
Interpretation: What does it mean?
Application: How does it apply to me?
Implementation: What do I do?