Here we are at rodeo time again in Sheridan. Rodeo is a part of our rich western heritage, something that makes Sheridan a special kind of place.
The New Testament book of James talks about bits and horses so I thought it might be appropriate for this week. James 3:2-3 says, “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body. If we put bits in the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole body as well.”
I had the privilege to spend many years training horses. They taught me many life lessons and I am grateful for that time in my life. I am always amazed at the life lessons that can be gleaned from God’s good creation.
While there are no perfect horses or people, when we aspire to follow God’s directives we receive a good benefit; willingness is the only prerequisite.
The bit in a horse’s mouth is really a means to communicate with the feet. It has not as much to do with the mouth as it does with the head, the neck and the feet. The horse trainer is working to have a supple, willing and responsive partner. A horse that feels the trainer and responds with a supple neck and willing feet is a horse that is ready for direction and one that is useful. A horse that feels the trainer’s hand and then becomes rigid and unwilling to move is not yet useful and must first learn some basics.
Our mouth and the things we speak are a barometer for the heart.
Jesus said in Matthew 12 that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. When our heart is in a good place, good things come out of it; we build up and encourage others. Our feet are willing to go in the direction the Lord guides and we are useful for His purposes. When negativity, slander or gossip are the outflow, we are tearing others down and it is a reflection of the poor condition of our heart. We become angry, embittered, unwilling to move and not as useful as we could be. We are needing to just stay in the round pen until we can yield to basic instruction.
Jesus came not to force our behaviors but to offer the choice of a new heart. His work is from the inside out. The heart that feels the touch of the Master, responding with a supple neck and willing feet, finds that the things coming out of it are those things that bless and build up.
The Bible puts great emphasis on the power of the spoken word and how we can either build up or tear down with the tongue. Some of the deepest emotional scars we carry are from words that were spoken over us by someone that we love, and probably some of the most hurtful things we have done have been words we have spoken over others. Let’s allow the Living Word, Jesus, to change the condition of our heart from the inside out so that the things we speak and do would be life to others.
Pastor Tri Robinson is the associate pastor of the Rock Church.