“Look 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.” (James 3:4)
In James 3:4, we are compared to ships. The first thing I want to pay attention to is the fact that we are driven by harsh winds. You can’t go through life without facing the storm. You can’t go through life without experiencing fierce winds. When those storms come, how are you using your tongue to avoid shipwreck?
The fierce winds want to blow you into the rocks and see you break apart in the heavy waves
But a wise and capable (seasoned) pilot will use his tongue to take that ship wherever he decides. Most use their tongue to guide them into the rocks. They say things like… “We’re gonna crash. We’re gonna die. We’re ruined. It’s all over now!”
They are what sailors call, “running with the wind”. That’s when you let your ship be driven in the direction the wind is blowing. In spiritual terms, that’s when you give consent or agreement to the circumstances and what appears to be the apparent outcome. You offer no resistance.
Then there’s the second group
They give no consent. They do not agree. They keep silent or they refuse to speak negatively. However, it is not enough to disagree with the wind. It is not enough to refuse to give verbal agreement to negative circumstances. It is like the ship captain that sees the fierce winds, the large waves and the rocky shore. Instead of decrying his fate, he keeps silent. Hoping for the best. That’s not enough.
He must take the helm, grab the rudder and steer the ship away from danger. In spiritual terms that means he must open his mouth and speak words of faith, declare a different outcome and set a different vision for himself and those around him. It is never enough to sit silent. The avoidance of negative declarations while a good first step, will not save you, will not redirect you, will not establish you. You must use your tongue, speak the words of life and of faith and set a different course.
Then there’s a third group
They use their words to avoid the rocks. They say things like, “We will make it. We will not die. We will survive. We will get through this to better days.” And in so doing, they do survive, they don’t’ die, they do live to see better days. The storm does pass and they did not end up on the rocks.
Where did they end up? Out to sea, drifting aimlessly on a beautiful sunny day, going nowhere in particular. Some have their sails trimmed and are heading strongly in a particular direction, but if you were to ask them where they are headed, they would tell you they are just out sailing. They are enjoying daily life.
They do have places they would love to see, ports they would love to visit. They say things like, “It would be wonderful to sail into Sydney Harbor. It would be grand to sail the Mediterranean Sea. I would love to do that some day.” While that sounds quite positive, it barely rises above flatulence. Perhaps a burp.
They should say, (if they are serious), “We are headed towards Sydney Harbor. We will pack up our supplies and God willing, we shall arrive by Spring. Then, we will sail through the Mediterranean and retrace the route the Apostle Paul took. We will do this next summer after leaving the South Seas.”
If our words are words of life….
If they carry faith and are sincere, they will result in ACTION. If they are glorified fairy tales, mere wishes or dreams, they will pass like the setting sun. But if they are the language of life, the tongue of the kingdom, they will result in ACTION. Action that begins with planning. Planning that begins with a clear vision, specific benchmark goals and where possible and necessary, the “how to” for various goals.