Five Unbridled Horses
A great evil lives among us. It is a very small evil but it is powerful in its destructive power. This evil has murdered brothers, begun wars, destroyed families and changed the course of the world. Few dangers exist in the world as fierce as the power of the tongue. James reminds us it is an unruly evil that left unbridled will bring about a conflagration of wholesale death. There are many things the child of God must work hard to remove from their lives and controlling the tongue will be one of the most difficult.
The five maladies of anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy and filthy language do not fit the mold of a Christian. Paul exhorts the importance of putting off or removing these problems from the life of one whose life is hidden in Christ. Simply put, Christians should not allow these things to be a part of their lives. Anger has no place in the heart of a person who is in love with God. John writes the relationship with our brother will determine our relationship with our Father. If we hate our brother, we cannot love God. Allowing anger to be a part of our life is not consistent with the bond we have with Jesus Christ. Marriages will have a greater degree of love when husbands and wives stop living angry at one another. This is not a choice – it is a command! Getting angry at work? Being angry at the other driver? Having a spirit of anger in your life? Stop acting like that! The Lord God says to put it away.
Wrath is the idea of indignation or anger on steroids. This takes anger to a completely new level. “Blowing the top” is how some describe wrath. Anger becomes an enraged sense of sin. How can you tell someone about Jesus when you are filled with wrath? Returning to the marriage model, no husband or wife should ever experience wrath in their marriage. Anger unbridled will lead to sin and wrath will destroy lives. Malice is deliberate ill will. Road rage is a good example where one driver cuts another off so the offended driver speeds up and slams on brakes in front of the other driver and … well it escalates to stupidity and sin. Getting angry with the spouse and doing something to punish them is where malice comes in. The work place can be an environment for malice. Shopping at the grocery store can breed malice. Children of God get rid of this sinful attitude.
Blasphemy and filthy language are exactly what they mean. Cursing, swearing, and using slang words to defame the character of another, language that is of the world and telling stories that are uncouth, unkind, ungodly and immoral. Laughing about it does not change the sin. Christian’s are people who season their speech with grace and kindness. Jesus Christ died on the cross and never cursed anyone. To be a follower of the One who suffered on the cross demands that we clean up our mouths. A horse without a bridle is a dangerous animal. The tongue without a bridle is an unruly evil and a world of iniquity. Paul’s admonishment is clear: PUT – IT – OFF. All of the five unbridled works of the flesh are to be removed from the life of the Christian.
A tongue without a guard upon it is like a city without a wall … it is not for nothing that nature herself thought fit to enclose the tongue with a double fence, both of teeth and lips. (Jon Bona, Guide to Eternity, 1672)