Take a deep breath and imagine this moment. You’re in a conversation with people you care about. It’s great until some thought pops into your head and you say it only seconds before desperately wishing you could swallow it back into your mouth. As soon as your last word leaves your lips, you see pain-filled eyes looking back at you. Someone else piles on more. Another defends. Suddenly, your conversation has gone somewhere you never wanted to go.
Okay, breathe again. That didn’t really just happen. But it probably has, right? Why do we say things we regret? The author of James, probably Jesus’ brother, spent almost an entire chapter explaining this phenomenon. Here’s what it comes down to: your tongue is a rudder.
A rudder? Okay, so you probably don’t travel by boat as often as James might’ve. A rudder is the piece on a boat that gets lowered into the water to help steer a boat. In very simple terms, if a captain wants to turn, he turns a wheel that triggers a lever to move a rudder, which turns the boat. Now imagine a giant ship. The captain might move his hand an inch, to move a rudder a few feet, to change the destination of a ship by hundreds of miles.
Your words don’t take you somewhere you never wanted to go; they amplify something your heart wants.
If your words are a rudder, then you’re the captain. Jesus just made it plain. He basically said your mouth is just how your heart speaks. Your words don’t take you somewhere you never wanted to go; they amplify something your heart wants.
There’s hope. When your heart goes the right way, your mouth will too. Salvation is our best evidence of this. We believed in our hearts then confessed with our mouths, and we were saved.
For the next few days, you’ll hear from four people who are overcoming comparing, complaining, gossiping, and lying to go where they really want to go.
Ask: Where do I want my life to go? How are my words heading in different directions?