Read: James 3:9-11 |
“Remember your tongue is in a wet place and it can slip easily.”
Do you remember going to the Doctor’s Office and the nurse saying, “Let me see your tongue. Now hold it up.” The nurse then inserts a thermometer under your tongue to check your physical temperature.
James is saying the same thing in Chapter 3 verses 1-11, “Let me see your spiritual tongue.” Our tongue is an indicator of our spiritual temperature.
After talking in general in the prior chapters about Christian living and faith and works, James shines the spotlight on one potential problem area – the untamed tongue.
The tongue personifies the spiritual condition of our hearts and minds. Using vivid descriptions of a small bit controlling a powerful horse, a tiny rudder controlling a mighty ship and a brief spark starting a raging forest fire, James leaves no question about the potential for good and bad with our tongues.
Blessing and Burden of Teachers
In his letter, he first addressed those who sought the label of “teacher” in order to receive the respect and honor due the honorable profession. God will anoint and appoint those He calls to teach and preach; self-anointers put themselves into harm’s way and risk the extra burden of accountability without the full inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Teachers have a blessing and a burden to teach. The blessing is the privilege of rightly dividing the Word of God. The burden is also a blessing if the teacher stays in close contact with God while seeking insight and guidance on what to teach. Godly teachers guard their tongues by abiding in God and allowing God to help edit their words.
Allow the Holy Spirit to help Harness our mind to control our tongue
James notes that man cannot tame his own tongue in verse 7. In order to harness our tongues, we need the Holy Spirit’s help to harness our hearts and minds.
A harness helps us avoid speaking with a forked tongue (to lie, deceit). With the harness, we find the strength to:
- Encourage more than we discourage
- Build up more than we dismantle
- Invite more than we dismiss
- Pray more than we Curse
- Praise more than we Condemn
Without a harness, the tongue is a flaming arrow. The arrow can travel around the world and hurt the target upon hearing the message. As the initial impact of the flaming arrow wears off, the smoke stain lingers in the spirit of the person offended. Though we may ask for and receive forgiveness, the smoke stain lingers and can re-ignite if we are not careful with our words and actions.
As we grow and mature in Christ, allow the Holy Spirit to harness our hearts and minds in order to gain the self-control needed to control our tongues.
The unsaid is best not spoken
A sign of spiritual growth is the ability to swallow words we would have otherwise spoken. After all, not everything we can think of needs expressing!
Leave unsaid sins such as gossip, slander, false teaching and lying. Also leave unsaid things that break the Golden Commandment (Matthew 22:37-39) to “….love God… and your neighbor….”. These might include putting others down, bragging, manipulating, exaggerating and flattering. In fact, Ephesians 4:29 says it best, we are to “let no unwholesome talk..” come from our mouths.
Learn to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance and input to what comes out of our mouths. By His power, our words become words of love, words of wisdom, words of peace, words of edification and words of thanksgiving.
Let me see your tongue, my brother and my sister. Now…., let God use it!
A. Our tongues have the:
i. Power to condemn
ii. Power to control
iii. Power to corrupt
iv. Power to combat
v. Power to compromise our faith
List based on Sermon by William McArthur
B. Of these powers which are you able to control the most? The least?
C. What is your growth plan?
A. Has your tongue gotten you in trouble before?
B. How do you handle it when you are around a lot of cursing, and gossiping and lying? Do you stay or do you go? Do you confront it? Discuss with your prayer partner.
A. What is the speech pattern of your friends and family? Does it change when you come around?
B. James Dent in a Reader’s Digest posting on [12/ 82]) said, “ As you go through life you are going to have many opportunities to keep your mouth shut. Take advantage of all of them”
C. Have you left unsaid something before? How did it turn out and how would it have turned out if you had spoken your mind?