I don’t know much at all about aerodynamics. I don’t understand how a metal machine can fly through the air. But when I’m traveling by airplane, I understand enough to know that the metal strip on the wing that moves up and down while we’re in the air will set the direction of the plane in some way. Officially, I believe that little strip is called the aileron, and when it moves, the flight path will change.
Our words are like that. When we use our words in one way, our relationships will flourish. When we use our words in different way, then our relationships will crash. Our words set the direction of our relationships, a point that God makes to us through the pen of James.
“If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” (James 3:3–5, ESV)
1. Our words set the direction for our relationships.
What we say and how we say it has great power. The tongue is a small thing, but it has enormous influence. The question we need to answer is where are our words leading those relationships? If our tongue is a rudder to the ship of our relationships, what is the course we are plotting?
2. To set the right direction, say what Jesus would say.
God wants us to grow up each day, to become mature followers of Jesus. How we communicate with others shows how we are becoming more, or less, like Jesus. We become more mature when we harness our words to bless others and bring life into their world with the love and grace and truth of Jesus.
Let’s use our words, not to score points in an argument or defend our egos. Let’s use our words like Jesus did. Jesus spoke to influence others to know God more intimately, to find the power of God’s presence in their daily lives. Jesus described His words and work among His friends and followers in this prayer:
“For I have given them the words that You gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.” (John 17:8, ESV)
We must commit our words to Jesus, and let Him speak through us into our relationships today. Just as Jesus pointed His followers to God the Father, imagine how our relationships would be different, how healthy they would be, if we harnessed our words to point our friends and family to know God and experience His power!