Matches and Rudders Part 1, header photo

Matches and Rudders: The Power of our Words, Part 1

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” Proverbs 18:21.


How many of us know our words are important? I would imagine that’s something we can all agree on. God had me pause many things in my life for a season this year to focus on this subject for my personal life, professional life, and for my family. My calling to write and speak involves words, and I use a whole lot of words raising and homeschooling three children. Words, words, words are everywhere, all day long for all of us. Think of all the text messages and emails we write, and how many conversations we have every single day. 


I’m so thankful for my teacher and counselor, the Holy Spirit, who has taken me on this extended pause to help me change my words, and I’m excited to share some of the highlights of what He’s been teaching me, with you. I hope the timing of this two part post will also be helpful as we are spending lots of time with family and friends during the holiday season.


James 3 offers us so much insight into our words. “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” James 3:3-5


Our tongue is a small organ, but like the rudder of a ship or the match that ignites a forest fire, what comes from it has massive consequences for ourselves and others. In high school and college, I rowed on a crew team. No matter how fast eight rowers could get that thin, slender boat moving across the water, if we didn’t have a coxswain accurately controlling the tiny rudder, that boat would not be crossing the finish line. I’ve also witnessed first hand the vast impact of forest fires living in an area prone to them in the late summer and fall. Likewise, I’ve watched as a seemingly small, insignificant word came out of my mouth and caused great damage to people I love. My hope is that with the Holy Spirit’s help, my words will instead help others to cross the finish line.


“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” James 3:7-12.


“No man can tame the tongue.” This is not something we can do in our own strength. So if we can’t tame our tongue, who can? GOD! This is only possible with the Holy Spirit helping us. God wants to help you, so ask! God will get the glory for the life that flows out of your mouth.


We are not to have both blessing and cursing come out of our mouths. I’m going to ask a really easy question. Which one do you think God wants to have come out of your mouth??? BLESSING, of course! God wants us to get rid of the mixture of fresh and saltwater. What’s the best way to do this? Only allow words that line up with God’s Word to come out of your mouth, as well as words that build up and encourage yourself and others.


One of the reasons God had me take this pause in my life is because there was a lot of whining, complaining, and anger coming out of my mouth. As author and speaker Joyce Meyers says so cleverly, “I’m saved, but my mouth didn’t sound like it was saved!” Of course I would justify the junk coming out of my mouth with really great excuses like, “My kid’s behavior is so out of control and annoying, and I’m tired and frustrated.” Or, “This person said something unkind and I feel hurt and rejected so now I need to ‘vent’ and tell a bunch of people about it.” Or, “I’m angry about this situation going on in the world so I need to talk about it over and over again.” And the list goes on and on. Thank God, in His mercy, He told me to take a big time out, and taught me a few things about what His Word says about my words. 


In part two, we will continue to explore this idea as we move to Ephesians 4 for some further study on the power of our words. Did you know complaining is a sin? Spoiler alert! Knowing this has changed me, and helped tremendously in my parenting!


  1. Emma Englesby on December 3, 2021 at 8:06 AM

    So good! Thank you for sharing and faithfully pressing in. I’m in this “Time out” with you.

    • Elizabeth Mathey on December 10, 2021 at 11:30 AM

      Thank you, Emma!

  2. Luann M Mathey on December 3, 2021 at 9:37 AM

    You left me wanting to read part 2 without waiting for it to come out later! You are such a talented writer. Your words flow so naturally and make me want to keep reading. I don’t know how you find the time or presence of mind to put this together with all you have going on. This subject is one we all need to reflect on and be reminded of or we find ourselves spiraling downward and losing track of where it takes us. Keep up the good work, Lizzie!

    • Elizabeth Mathey on December 10, 2021 at 11:37 AM

      Thank you so much, Luann!Part 2 will be here soon! I find joy in writing, probably in a similar way that you find joy in creating a gorgeous garden each spring and summer 🙂

  3. Honey buns on December 3, 2021 at 12:18 PM

    So well written. You have taken this advice into action at home, thank you for teaching us all everyday about the power of words

    • Elizabeth Mathey on December 10, 2021 at 11:37 AM

      Thank you, sweetie pie!

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About Me

I am a child of God, a wife to Seth, and a mother to James, Luke, and Eva. The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I became a “new creation” at the age of 23 when I surrendered my life to Jesus and was delivered from a decade of depression. Read more...