Summary: James in chapter 3, makes the point that the tongue is a great destroyer in the church, if not controlled. And at the same time can be a great builder as well, if used with Godly wisdom.

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Are You Burning or Building the Kingdom?

James 3:1-12


One of the greatest things about our society is that we are a people that like to build, especially here in America. If someone builds a bigger building than we do, we simply build one bigger. You only have to look into the “Geniuses Book of Records” to see that we want to build everything big. Sundaes, balls of string, bridges, you name it…we build it bigger!

But we are also a nation of destroyers. If you have ever watched shows like TLC or Discovery Channel they will even host shows that highlight the fact that we love to blow things up; the bigger the explosion the better.

There is however an even deadlier way that we destroy. All of us are guilty of it at one time or another. And some of us may even be guilty of it today.

That is apparently the point that James is trying to address here in our text tonight: the deadliest, yet most utilized tool of destruction in the world. The tongue!

As we have seen through the book of James, James addresses what is has happened or is happening in the local church. He also uses real life illustrations to help us understand. The issue is one that we can destroy relationships with the flick of tongue, we can ruin a church by the tossing of a few well-lit words.


James uses three different elements to explain the power of the tongue. Now the first two actually lead you to see that it is not necessarily the instrument as much as it is the one playing it. Someone has to pull the reins on the bit, and someone has to steer the rudder. James says in verse 2 that if you can do that then you can control the whole of who you are. But we are told to look and see how large and destructive a fire that the tongue can create.

The wild fires that are outside of Los Angeles right now were set by a single arsonist. And that is how many destructive situations happen today. We light very destructive fires with the flick of the tongue. But James does not just leave it there; he gives a clear reason as to what the cause is, why it could be that way among people who claim to be Christians.

I. Hellish Fire

• God’s word is very clear here.

• The root cause of destructive tongue is not the tongue itself.

• It is when let your guard down that Satan motivates your speech and your speech will be from:

1. Bitterness

• Bitterness is not a Godly attribute.

• It is in fact a disease that begins to eat at you internally and when you feel pressured in a situation you use that bitterness to bite back.

• And bitterness will lead to more bitterness.

• The more that you let it flow, the more harsh and evil your words become.

2. Jealously

• It will drive us to draw attention to yourselves.

• It is the very thing that Satan uses to get us to verbally bring down others.

• To make what someone else is doing look small and tar down what good they are doing.

• The easiest way to do that is if out of jealousy, we verbally attack with out clear truth, or slander and or words are not truly honest.

• And the more you burn downward

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