Who’s Holding the Reins?
Read James 3:3-4 (ESV)
If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 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.
Do you control your words, or do they control you? How does that impact your entire life?
If I asked you which body part is the most influential in your life, you might think it’s your hands. They complete your tasks and do the majority of your work. Or you might think it is your feet and your legs. They take you wherever you want to go.
So, you may be surprised that James argued that our tongues are the body part that guides our entire body. In fact, he compared our tongues to a bit in a horse’s mouth or the rudder of a ship. Our tongues are a small part of our body but even so, they are like our steering wheels. We go where our tongues take us.
Because of this, we need to ask ourselves a few questions. Who’s holding the reins? Who’s at the helm? It is important that whoever is in charge is able to keep your mouth under control.
Have you ever ridden a horse that suddenly started to run wild? Maybe it got spooked and started to buck and bolt? A skilled rider knows how to handle it and bring them back under control. They also know how to train the horse to prevent this behavior in the future.
It is also terrifying to be on a boat that is being tossed to and fro by rough waves. It takes a skilled sailor to keep a ship under control, even in rough seas.
Likewise, an out of control tongue is a terrifying thing. If your mouth is out of control, it is going to impact every aspect of your life—and the lives of those around you. Unfortunately, we all know how hard it can be to keep our mouths under control.
You’ve heard people say, “Jesus, take the wheel,” (or the reins), right? Well, that is the answer here. On our own, we all struggle with sin. In order for us to be able to control our tongues, we need Someone to help us and guide us. We need the Holy Spirit.
In John 14:16-17, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to His disciples: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” Every born-again believer in Jesus Christ is filled with the Holy Spirit who can help us walk and talk in full obedience to God.
But not everyone who is indwelt with the Holy Spirit allows the Spirit to control their lives. If we want to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, we have to walk in step with the Spirit: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
Paul goes on in Galatians 5:22-23 to list the “Fruit of the Spirit” or the evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in your life: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Looking at that list, how many of those character traits have a connection with the words that we say…or don’t say?
Friends, our tongues may be small but they steer our whole lives. In order to keep them under control, we need to yield control to the Holy Spirit. Today, I encourage you to walk and talk in step with Spirit. Ask the Helper for help and yield to His guidance in all that you do…and say.
Holy Spirit, I know that I need Your help controlling my mouth and steering my life in the right direction. Please give me guidance, wisdom, and the humility to yield to Your will. Amen.