Big Problems from Small Things
by Warren E. Berkley
A few years ago I enjoyed the recreational pursuit of riding a horse through a beautiful Ozark mountain trail. I’m not an experienced horse rider. The experience to navigate the steep, rocky trail belonged to the horse, not the rider. The horses available at West Mountain Trails were raised and trained for nothing but carrying inexperienced tourists through the mountain trails near Devil’s Den, Arkansas.
There is a purpose in all the equipment the horse wears, like the bit. Even the inexperienced rider can learn quickly to use the reins and bit to guide this powerful animal. As well trained as the trail horses are, you can actually lead them away from the familiar path, if you know how to use the equipment. While the bit is a very small instrument in proportion to the animal, it holds great power.
This is like the human tongue. One of the smallest members of the human body, but what great power it holds for good or evil! One false accusation can arouse suspicion about an innocent person – suspicion that will never really go away (though no sin may have been committed). One lie can hurt a whole family; one false doctrine can destroy a soul; one insult can discourage a struggling young person; one angry word can divide a church. And, when you read all of this, plug in the modern keyboard and internet!
“For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body . . . Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles . . . no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison,” (James 3:2,3,5,8). “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).