Who is your worst enemy?

James, who is reputed to be the brother of Jesus and a writer of a New Testament letter, knew the answer.

In his letter, he spent a lot of his time on a single topic–what we do with our mouths.

He compares man’s tongue to a raging fire, out of control.

One remedy is to treat it as a horse…put a bit in it to control the direction.

But alas, James observes, we lack the strength to control what we say or when we say it.

A donkey was walking along one day when he came across the hide of a lion left behind by a hunter.

Dressed in regal fur, he sunned and amused himself by hiding in a thicket. When another animal would wander by, he would leap from the thicket. All the animals ran away, thinking he was the lion out for an easy lunch.

He was pleased to see his newfound powers. Animals now feared and respected him as if he were the king of the beasts. However, he could not help but boast about it by letting out a loud bray.

A fox running from the pretend predator stopped and looked at this menacing image. He laughed as he approached the donkey. “If you had kept your mouth shut, you might have frightened me too. But you gave yourself away with that silly bray.”

The story’s truth is so apparent, but Aesop, the storyteller, felt the need to clarify it. He said, “a fool may deceive by his dress and appearance, but his words will soon show what he really is.”

The wise man Solomon observed the same but put it in different words:

“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Proverbs 17:28)

Taste your words before you spit them out of your mouth. Stop your tongue if they taste too bigheaded, sore, or acidic.

After all, the man who can control his speech has mastery that few possess. He is a wise man. Moreover, he is a peaceful man.

So before you speak, stop. What are you revealing about yourself with your words?