Of Ships and Sparks and Bits and Bridles

“Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” —Nathaniel Hawthorne

What do ships and horses have in common? Not much, at first glance. But think about how each one is guided. How does a horse know to stay on the trail? And how is a ship guided into the harbor?

The Bible uses imagery to help us understand the power of words and language to both build up and to destroy.

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” James 3:3, 4, NIV

Words really do have power! Think about the effect someone else’s’ words have had on you. Perhaps they were words of encouragement, of criticism, of advise, or of caution. How did they affect you?  Now think about the impact your language has had on others. Have you started any forest fires with the spark of an angry word? How can you ensure that the powerful gifts of speaking and writing are used for the purpose God intended? Help spark the discussion by sharing your thoughts in the comment feed below.

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