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Read Introduction to James


“Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.”


James now shows four analogies that demonstrate how the tongue has power over the whole person:

1) a bit in a horse’s mouth (3:3),

2) a small rudder in a huge ship (3:4),

3) a small spark in a great forest (3:5-6), and

4) the taming of different animals (3:7,8).

Although the tongue is small, it has great power. It can affect our entire lives.

Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us,

To control a horse, we put a bridle over its head and a bit into its mouth. The bit rests on the tongue of the horse. If we control its tongue, we control the horse’s whole body.

Ps 39:1 “I said, ‘I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue;
I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle,
While the wicked are before me.’”

and we turn their whole body

We can direct a very large animal like a horse by a small bit and a bridle. The Christian can change the course of his life by having the right spiritual bit. When God controls our tongues, he will give us spiritual direction.


There is great power in what we say.


The tongue is small but powerful. If we control our tongue, we can control our lives. Small words can greatly impact our lives. Although the tongue is a small part of the body, it can do great damage to the reputation and attitude of others toward us. A short sentence can take years to undo.

As a small piece of metal enables us to control a 1500-pound animal such as a horse, so the discipline of the tongue allows us to control our lives. As we must bridle the horse, so must we bridle the tongue in submission to God.

In our natural state, we are like wild horses – we cannot bridle ourselves. If we do not bridle ourselves, God will put a special bit into our mouths to set us in the right direction. We control our mouths by divine direction. If we allow God to bridle our tongues, then there will be a monitor for our mouths.

Ps. 32:9 “Do not be like the horse or like the mule,
Which have no understanding,
Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,
Else they will not come near you.”