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  • Shawn Thornton

The Hardest Thing to Tame

Updated: Feb 12

Sunday - February 7th

Devotionals from the Book of James

Scripture to Read Today: James 3:1-12

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish,

but no one can tame the tongue.

James 3:7-8 NLT



If you have ever tried to train a dog, you know how challenging it can be. Even when a dog has been entirely well-trained, it may have one command it does not want to obey. Each dog seems to have a personality, and that personality seems to have one or two areas that still push the boundaries.


The urge to bark uncontrollably when the doorbell rings or jump up on a guest can be so hard for the best-trained dogs. Over the years, the various dogs Lesli and I have owned have found ways to express their frustration regarding a command or boundary. While obeying, some have whined. Others have barked.


One of the two current dogs we have, Lucy, does this thing where she kind of talks to us by a groaning growl. It can be both annoying and endearing. It certainly sounds like she is describing why she hates the particular boundary frustrates her so much. At times, it sounds as if she is laying out her logic.


Men and women have trained all kinds of animals over the millennia of human history. I have observed dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, hamsters, and other domestic animals trained in people's homes over the years of my life. I have seen elephants, dolphins, horses, whales, pigs, and monkeys trained to perform at amusement parks, circuses, and zoos. Who among us hasn't laughed or been amazed by the trained actions of animals, birds, or fish?


While people have been able to domesticate or train all kinds of creatures, almost every human being struggles to control their own tongue. James, the first-century Jerusalem pastor, mentions the power or danger of our words in three different places in his biblical letter to other believers. In the most extensive section regarding the tongue, he writes: "People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue" (James 3:7-8). When we think we have finally gotten control of what we say and how we say it, we mess up. We say something critical or cutting. We lie. We murmur or complain. We cuss.


The fact that we may not see our tongues tamed until we are wholly redeemed in Heaven should not stop us from seeking to control our mouths. The more we grow in the Lord and let Him transform our anger, judgmental spirit, and aggressive responses, the less our words will hurt others. We may not be entirely like Jesus in how we live and love until we are with Him, but that should not stop us from becoming more like Him every day!


Observing the transformation in our lives can bless those who once were on the damaging end of our hurtful words. God wants us to grow. His Spirit can change us from the inside out - even in what we say and how we say it.


What would others say about how you use your words as you communicate with them? How would those closest to you describe your words? Would they say you are growing in how you control your tongue?


People have tamed a lot of creatures historically. But we have struggled to control our tongues. God can change that!

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