Control is one of those words in the English language that are both a noun and a verb. It’s something you can do and something you can possess. In our scripture text today we see that it speaks loudly as both:
"…for if he can control his tongue he can control every other part of his personality! Men control the movements of a large animal like the horse with a tiny bit placed in its mouth. Ships too, for all their size and the momentum they have with a strong wind behind them, are controlled by a very small rudder according to the course chosen by the helmsman. The human tongue is physically small, but what tremendous effects it can boast of! A whole forest can be set ablaze by a tiny spark of fire, and the tongue is as dangerous as any fire, with vast potentialities for evil. It can poison the whole body, it can make the whole of life a blazing hell."James 3:2-6 (PHILLIPS)
We can exercise control over our tongue and be a person of control! Of all the organs of our body, this little muscle can both kill and make alive. While we may not naturally possess the smooth silky language of a flatterer by nature, by exercising "control" we can always find something to say to build another person up. We can always find something to say to motivate, to encourage, to cause someone to smile. When the capacity to do any of those things does not seem to be present, we can exercise "control" and keep our mouths shut. In point of fact, the tongue is the one area of our life where we have been given the most liberty, and the most responsibility.
In another portion of the book of James, the writer makes this issue of controlling the tongue abundantly clear:
If anyone appears to be "religious" but cannot control his tongue, he deceives himself and we may be sure that his religion is useless. James 1;26 (PHILLIPS)
Tight, but right!