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9 Taking Care Of The Tongue James 3:1-12

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Taking Care Of The Tongue James 3:1-12 Adapted from a Tim Bond sermon http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/taking-care-of-the-tongue-tim-bond-sermon-on-christian-disciplines-49445.asp

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9 Taking Care Of The Tongue James 3:1-12

  1. 1. Taking Care Of The Tongue James 3:1-12 Adapted from a Tim Bond sermon http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/taking-care-of-the- tongue-tim-bond-sermon-on-christian-disciplines-49445.asp
  2. 2. Maybe you’ve heard the old adage, “What you do speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying.” In James 2:18, the passage we looked at last week, the brother of Jesus writes, “But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works.” NET
  3. 3. It would be fair to sum up James 2:18 and all the discussion that went along with it by that good old saying you and I have heard and said so often, “Actions speak louder than words.” Just when you think you have a handle on what James is saying, he shifts gears and points to another very real truth.
  4. 4. James comes back in the very next passage and says, “Don’t get me wrong, what you say is important too. Just because your actions are central to your faith, don’t be fooled into thinking that the way you communicate with others is a little matter.” You have to take care of tongue too!
  5. 5. James 3:1 NET Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we will be judged more strictly. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect individual, able to control the entire body as well. 3 And if we put bits into the mouths of horses to get them to obey us, then we guide their entire bodies.
  6. 6. 4 Look at ships too: Though they are so large and driven by harsh winds, they are steered by a tiny rudder wherever the pilot's inclination directs. 5 So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. 6 And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies.
  7. 7. It pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence — and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued and has been subdued by humankind. 8 But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God's image.
  8. 8. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters. 11 A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a vine produce figs? Neither can a salt water spring produce fresh water.
  9. 9. Now if you and I were to think about all the trouble we get into in the course of our lifetime, I believe we would find out that it was often our mouths that got us there. If we could step back and see all the conflict that we have faced, all of the pain we have felt and caused, at the heart of almost every time we have faced off with other people is a flapping tongue. Now James addresses the issue so that we realize what the tongue is like.
  10. 10. The Power of the Tongue It is impossible to read through this chapter of James and miss the incredible images that he uses to portray how powerful the tongue is. James wants to make sure you get the picture of the force your language carries. A. bits into the mouths of horses…guide their entire bodies.
  11. 11. B. ships…are steered by a tiny rudder C. small .. flame sets a huge forest ablaze D. every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature…has been subdued by humankind. E. spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening F. Can a fig tree produce olives or a vine produce figs
  12. 12. James is offering us a slide show, a series of thumbnail sketches that portray how powerful a tool the tongue is. It can be used for either good or destruction, to build up or to tear down. Whenever I think of the power of the tongue, I am reminded of WWII history. Adolph Hitler had a powerful and poisonous tongue.
  13. 13. With it he laid out his strategy for making Germany the rulers of the world. By his powerful rhetoric, he enflamed the German nation so they could without conscience slaughter millions of Jews, Russians, Poles, Slavs, many other minorities, POWs and put together a ruthless machine that set out to conquer the world. What a powerful and deadly tongue Hitler had.
  14. 14. On the other side of the war were great speakers leading the Allied nations. Winston Churchill roused the sleeping nation of England to battle courageously against overwhelming odds. FDR with his fireside chats and speeches encouraged the United States to fight for the world’s freedom.
  15. 15. It would be impossible to over-estimate how important the use of the tongue, that little instrument of communication, was to both starting the war, and bringing it to an end. What incredible power to encourage and to destroy! But you don’t have to go to world history to see the power of the tongue. Just think about the people you know.
  16. 16. Do you know someone who lives with the criticism of a spouse or a critical parent? If you do, you probably know them to be someone who struggles with insecurity and depression. The children’s rhyme says “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I wish that were true, but the reality of life is that words are a powerful force for forming our lives.
  17. 17. Good, encouraging words can accomplish great things in a person’s life. Bitter and critical words can do tremendous damage. And the scary reality is, you have to have a license to drive a car, or to carry a concealed weapon, and some training goes with that. But everybody gets a tongue, and there is no mandatory training that goes with this powerful instrument.
  18. 18. On a windswept hill in an English country churchyard stands a drab, gray slate tombstone. The faint etchings read: BENEATH THIS STONE, A LUMP OF CLAY, LIES ARABELLA YOUNG, WHO, ON THE TWENTY-FOURTH OF MAY, BEGAN TO HOLD HER TONGUE.
  19. 19. For some it’s worse than a loose cannon. The tongue is a powerful tool, and it can do great good or incredible harm. But James is not only interested in us recognizing the power of our words. He also tells us of…
  20. 20. The Privilege of the Tongue A couple of times in his discussion of the tongue, James points out some real privileges we have with the gift of speech. Note v. 9 “With it we bless the Lord and Father.” What a tremendous gift it is to be able to come together to praise God. It is the highest privilege we have as human beings.
  21. 21. Nothing we do is a greater honor than being able to come before the throne of God and tell Him how wonderful He is. At this may I have your closest attention. Make sure you act like you are honored by the privilege of worship.
  22. 22. For worship we shouldn’t shuffle in as quick as we can get here, mumble out a few songs and do our best to hold our heads up without nodding off in the presence of God. What a gift it is to be able to worship Him. Take that seriously!
  23. 23. Another privilege James talks of is the ability to teach. Verse 1 warns “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we will be judged more strictly.” That is a warning for those who are in the position of instructing others in the Word of God such as I am doing or one of you in a Sunday School classroom. Take the responsibility of teaching seriously.
  24. 24. In James’ time the teacher had a lot of prestige, and evidently many people wanted the prestige of having people hear their words. But they weren’t too concerned about what they were teaching. James says if you have the privilege of teaching, there is some responsibility. Do it right, because God is watching the way you do it, and He will consider your teaching when he judges.
  25. 25. Teachers, remember God is in your classroom. How does He feel listening to your lessons? James is not trying to discourage competent and qualified individuals from teaching. Paul taught Timothy; And entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well. 2 Timothy 2:2 NET
  26. 26. The writer of Hebrews declared; Hebrews 5:12 NET For though you should in fact be teachers by this time, you need someone to teach you the beginning elements of God's utterances. You have gone back to needing milk, not solid food. James is warning those who might be tempted to view teaching as an easy and effortless task, or those who start teaching from ulterior motives, prestige, the public spotlight, etc…
  27. 27. James makes it clear that while the teacher or preacher simply uses words--words are very powerful! Adam and Eve fell into sin because they believed the wrong words, wars have started over words, whole nations have been destroyed because of a certain ideology. While the teacher or preacher simply uses words in their trade,
  28. 28. let us remember that the course of history and the eternal destiny of individuals has been altered by "words". (Dunagan) As you read these verses, you can’t help but notice that James is doing more than just teaching us about the power and privilege of having a tongue. There is a definite slant to what he tells us in these verses. It’s an issue he wants us to think about.
  29. 29. The Problem With The Tongue Did you notice it throughout his words? You might not catch it with the bit in the mouth of horses nor the rudder, but it comes through loud and clear in the other pictures he paints. When he compares the tongue to fire it is not something that you warm yourself beside on a winter’s evening.
  30. 30. It is a raging forest fire, out of control. He uses words like It pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence — and is set on fire by hell This is not a pretty picture here. When he talks about taming animals, the contrast is the wildness of the tongue, “full of deadly poison.” When he mentions “we bless the Lord and Father,” he contrasts it with “we curse people made in God's image.”
  31. 31. There is the image of an unreliable spring that one time you get a drink and it is good fresh water and the next time it is bitter salt water. This tongue that is so powerful and privileged is also wild and bitter and deadly. And we all know what he is talking about. The tongue with all its great potential for goodness in praising God, teaching godliness and encouraging people is more often than not used to destroy and embitter and tear apart.
  32. 32. How many times have you said something you wish you had not? Oh, the pain! But after it is said, it is next to impossible to recall the bumbling rhetoric. Once a man working in the produce department was asked by a lady if she could buy half a head of lettuce. He replied, "Half a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that's how we sell them!"
  33. 33. "You mean," she persisted, "that after all the years I've shopped here, you won't sell me half-a-head of lettuce?" "Look," he said, "If you like I'll ask the manager." She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. "You won't believe this, but there's a lame-braided idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce."
  34. 34. He noticed the manager gesturing, and turned around to see the lady standing behind him, obviously having followed him to the front of the store. "And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half" he concluded. Later in the day the manager cornered the young man and said, "That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I've ever seen! Where did you learn that?"
  35. 35. "I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it's known for its great hockey teams and its ugly women." The manager's face flushed, and he interrupted, "My wife is from Grand Rapids!" "And which hockey team did she play for?"
  36. 36. How can I say that my tongue is devoted to God, teach and preach His Word, and then use that same tool to verbally assault someone? As I considered this, verses 9-11 really struck me. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God's image. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters. 11 A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it?
  37. 37. You see, the type of water that comes from a spring is determined way below the surface of the ground. Down deep in the heart of the earth that water is drawn from a source that is either sparkling and fresh, or it is salty and bitter. And the same is true with wild, deadly and bitter tongues.
  38. 38. The problem isn’t in the mouth. The problem is in the heart. Down in the deeper recesses of our being, where we don’t like to let people see what really exists, that is where the wild, bitter, deadly tongue gets its power. Jesus said in Matthew 12:33 NET "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is known by its fruit.
  39. 39. 34 Offspring of vipers! How are you able to say anything good, since you are evil? For the mouth speaks from what fills the heart. 35 The good person brings good things out of his good treasury, and the evil person brings evil things out of his evil treasury. 36 I tell you that on the day of judgment, people will give an account for every worthless word they speak.
  40. 40. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.“ Did you get it? “For the mouth speaks from what fills the heart.” You see, after some real heart searching, I have come to realize that there is sometimes an evil tendency to want to knock people down a notch or two so that it makes me feel like I am a notch higher.
  41. 41. That’s not something I say with any pride, but it’s a reality that I have recognized by looking inside. It is a problem I have struggled with for years, and I always have to be on my guard. The sad reality is that I know I’m not alone. Many of us face the challenge of a tongue that runs out of control on occasion. Now, I want you to be painfully honest with yourself today. What is the struggle you have with your tongue?
  42. 42. Do you relish in the juicy tidbit of gossip? Do you have a tendency to be a verbal abuser? Is your tongue careless about what it says and the way it says it? Is there a streak in you that can’t stand to be wrong, and you will fight to the death before you will admit you made a mistake? If you have a problem with a wild, bitter or deadly tongue, realize it is just an overflow valve for a wild, bitter and deadly heart.
  43. 43. Now you know, there are two directions this sermon could go at this point. One is to give three helpful hints for taming the tongue. We could consider some self-help techniques for covering up the ugliness that can come out of our mouth. We could talk about counting to ten when you are angry before you speak, or some other very practical method for maintaining harmonious relationships.
  44. 44. Now you know, there are two directions this sermon could go at this point. One is to give three helpful hints for taming the tongue. We could consider some self-help techniques for covering up the ugliness that can come out of our mouth. We could talk about counting to ten when you are angry before you speak, or some other very practical method for maintaining harmonious relationships.
  45. 45. But in the end those things are only a superficial way of treating the real problem. That would be like using a band-aid to cure cancer. You see, you can try the techniques of “How to win friends and influence people” all you want, but if you never take care of the root issue of a sin darkened heart then the bitter water is going to well up out of that poisonous spring.
  46. 46. James and Jesus are all about telling us that if you notice that there is a problem with your tongue running out of control, you better recognize that down deep there is a heart that isn’t completely submitted to God. Don’t think you’re ever going to get your tongue under control until you give your heart completely over to God.
  47. 47. You see, the problem with the tongue is that it eventually will show what is going on in the deepest part of your spirit. You might be able to cover it up some, but your tongue is really the showcase of your heart. The good news is that God offers a cure for heart problems! Don’t you love to hear that?
  48. 48. In an Old Testament prophecy, God spoke through Ezekiel about a time when He would offer a cure for the heart disease that ravages all human beings. God said in Ezekiel 36:26 NET I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh.
  49. 49. 27 I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative and you will obey my statutes and carefully observe my regulations. The good news of Jesus Christ is that if we will allow Him to work on us, we are not destined to live by the evil whims of our heart. Because of God’s tremendous love for us, He wanted us to be able to overcome sin’s control over our lives.
  50. 50. Paul, writing to the Saints in Rome said; For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2 NET Through His Holy Spirit, God wants to remake you from the inside out. He wants to take the old heart that is corrupt and give you a new heart that is fashioned after His. He wants to remake you into the likeness of Jesus.
  51. 51. But God does not force His Will on us. He could, but instead He offers us the free choice to follow or not. We’ve been talking about taking care of the tongue, but really the question is, “How’s your heart?” God wants to perform heart surgery on you, and give you a new heart that is prepared to last forever, using your tongue to give Him praise throughout eternity. He will do the operation if you will give Him your old heart.

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