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Read Introduction to James


“Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.”


Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds,

James challenges his readers to look at another illustration – that of a very large ship. The ship on which Paul traveled on his voyage to Rome had 276 people on board (Ac 27:37), indicating its size. Captains steer huge ships by very small rudders even through contrary winds.

The ship is analogous to man, as was the horse in the previous verse. The best element for the ship is in the sea. We see the integrity of the ship in a fierce storm. The Christian tests his mettle best in the storm. God does not send us to Heaven the moment we become Christians; He tests us in time by the storms of life.

they are turned by a very small rudder

The rudder is tiny compared to the total ship, yet it guides the direction of the ship. If we leave a ship to the winds, we will never reach our destination. We need a rudder to steer the ship properly. The rudder steers the ship in the storm. The winds blow us forward, but we control that fierce action by a rudder. The rudder allows us to turn cursing into blessing. There can be no motion in a sailing ship without wind. The Christian uses the winds of life to move in the right direction by God’s rudder for his life.

wherever the pilot desires

The pilot is the captain. The tongue can turn the direction of life. If we watch our tongue, we determine the direction our life takes.


When we are at the helm of our ship and in control of the rudder of our tongue, it will change our course from a hazardous approach toward life to a directed approach toward life.


Jesus is the Captain of our salvation. He guides us through the storms of life. If we allow Him to be at the helm of our lives, we will reach God’s will for our lives. The storms may hit our lives, but we can use the storms to move us forward. God does not exempt any of us from trouble in life.

The issue is not whether we will have trouble, but how we will handle the trouble. If we handle our problems with our mouths, we put ourselves in danger of drifting off the course God set for us. Our tongues will get us into trouble unless we submit ourselves to the One who should be at the helm of our lives. If we control our tongue by God’s power, He will set our course straight.