Words reflect our heart’s condition. 

Words are powerful.

Words can be used to hurt or to heal.

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:10). On a scale of 1-10, ten being the best, how would you rate your ability to control your tongue? Be honest. Jesus said it is “not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matthew 15:11).

James puts it in a different way. “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26). Words are a reflection of our heart’s condition. James further used three examples to describe the tongue and how we use our words.

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1. THE BIT FOR A HORSE: Like the bit, “the tongue is a little member and boasts great things” (James 3:5). That small little piece of metal can steer a huge animal. It is the same with horses as it is with humans. If we can control the tongue, we can bring the whole person under control. 


2. THE RUDDER FOR A SHIPJames had observed many ships on the Sea of Galilee and probably on the Mediterranean driven by strong winds. This second illustration adds another element. The controlled tongue can overcome significant obstacles.

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3. THE SPARK FOR A FIRE: The third and final example James uses is the spark that starts a fire. Let me remind you of the Chicago fire of 1871. On October 8, 1871, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over the lantern at 8:30 p.m. That led to the Great Chicago Fire. It left 100,000 people homeless, 17,500 buildings destroyed, 300 people dead, and 40 million dollars worth of damage done. All this happened because a cow kicked over a lantern.

The bit, the rudder, the spark, and the tongue all have the power to direct even though they are small. Words can hurt, and words can heal. Many times words stick with us for a long time. Can you think of words that someone said to you that have hurt and stuck with you? I certainly can.

Screen Shot 2019-12-03 at 7.31.13 PMOne match can burn down a house. The tongue is like a match. The tongue may be small, but it is influential. It sets things aflame. Fire feeds on itself. It has the amazing and virtually unique capacity to reproduce itself in an almost unlimited way as long as it has fuel to burn. The tongue is the gate through which the evil influences of hell can spread like fire. Do you agree with the saying, “Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, but Words Will Never Hurt Me?” This is such a confusing and unbiblical message.

So, what types of words should we use?


Words are powerful, and positive words result in powerful encouragement. People are starving for encouragement. I have never had anyone ask for less encouragement.

You may ask, “What do I Encourage?”



Words reflect our heart’s condition. 

Words are powerful.

Words can be used to hurt or to heal.

Get in the habit of catching people doing something you can encourage. The better you know your friends, the deeper your encouragement can reach. Let me invite you to start today. Encourage three people today.

“The tongue is a little member and boasts great things.” (James 3:5)

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