Can Someone Get the Key?

“If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check” (James 3:2).
I remember reading about one of those enormous trucks that they use to haul iron or copper ore — the ones with wheels as high as a house — that had begun to move down the road without its driver. The great truck was full of earth and rock, and must have weighed thirty tons, but there it was, lumbering down the road on its own recognizance. The driver had left the engine running while he stepped out to talk to a colleague.
The runaway truck crushed everything in its path, flowerbeds and automobiles alike with the ease of King Kong. It veered off the road and made its way to the workers’ canteen. Men abandoned their meals and poured out of the building in haste.
Soon a crowd of several hundred gathered in a mixture of awe and curiosity to see what the truck would do. Someone from upper management, an assistant vice president of something or other came running out, his white shirt and tie contrasting with the denim blue collars.
“How do you stop the thing?” he bellowed.
All the men turned to look at him. Someone gave the answer that they all knew. “Someone has to climb in and turn off the ignition key!”
Then they all reverted their attention to the great behemoth. Such a simple solution, and such a little key. The problem was, who was going to mount the freewheeling metal fortress and get it?
The truck tore through the wood-frame mess hall, and began to careen up the embankment beyond. It spun its wheels on the wet earth, and, in a slow movement, slid down and began to move back towards the crowd of miners.
I don’t remember who finally took the courageous step to mount the ladder leading to the door of the truck, but I know this. While the solution to their problem was simple, the application was not. How do you get inside the moving vehicle?
The same is true of the words we use. James suggests that any man who can control his tongue, is a perfect man, and able to control his whole life. I used to take these words as euphemism, an exaggeration for effect. I’m not so sure any more.
The words we use can do so much good and so much harm. Controlling our words is not easy! James will use some wonderful images to describe a “runaway” tongue. He compares it to an inflamed horse without a bit, a ship without a rudder, or a raging brush fire. Unkind words, gossip, or angry, caustic accusations have the momentum of a mountain of runaway mine truck.
It’s always better to turn the idle off when it’s standing still.

The following two tabs change content below.

Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

Latest posts by Stan Mitchell (see all)

Share your thoughts: