The Rudder

James 3:2-10
For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.

Ouch!  This is one of the most difficult passages of scripture for me to read.  I cannot even begin to count the number of times I have allowed the “rudder” of my body to tear down.  I am quite sure, that my mom could even attest to the unruly things that would spew forth from my mouth as a toddler to teen (dare I say, “Mine!” and “I hate you!”).  If only my tongue could be tamed!  But James is clear that it just can’t be.  We are all imperfect and make mistakes, “speaking our minds” or “from the heart.”  Hmmm…  If that be the case, what is it that should be in our minds and heart?  What can we do about our cursed tongue?  Does James give any help or direction after he pinpoints one of our greatest struggles in the flesh?  Let’s take a look.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. -James 3:13-18

In my Bible, there is a subject header above this paragraph that reads, Two Kinds of Wisdom.  Are these related to the heart and mind? It seems so as James explains that our “works are done with gentleness born of wisdom” and goes on to our hearts, speaking to envy and selfish ambitions… to not be boastful (this would definitely happen via the tongue). Interesting how works, selfish ambitions and boastfulness seem to flow just in that order. We decide to do something, take action either for good or evil, based on the ambitions of our hearts and then are tempted to boast in ourselves (using our mouth nonetheless). Or we use our mouth to cover up any mess that our actions have caused… I have done this too often, feeling angry at myself for mistakes made and allowing my rudder to lose control, just as I allowed my mind and heart to slink off the path of seeking God.

So what am I to do? James tells us that “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.” Does reading that lighten your spirit or what? I love God’s Word. And the final answer to my question of “how do I even begin to control this rudder of mine?” is this: “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.” If I live out peace, true peace, then a harvest of righteousness is sown in even more peace. Am I filling my heart and mind with wisdom from above? Wisdom that is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits and (here’s the kicker) without partiality or hypocrisy… what a measuring stick. I am needing to reflect and meditate on this wisdom and focus my heart and mind towards the Lord consistently in order to experience a harvest of righteousness and peace… I pray that you and I both are moved to action and love.

One Response to The Rudder

  • tammyp says:

    Great post Carolyn. I am thankful to have found you. I met your Aunt P while puchasing some of their yummy product. She thought i would enjoy your journey. I am. We have been on a very simular path with the Lord Jesus and our family and our home the Earth. So unique in all of creation and God gave it to us to tend and take care of. Thank you for bein a voice for this. Do you have an email address???