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Summary: Sermon from James 3:1-12

PRACTICAL CHRISTIAN LIVING #6 - Controlling the Tongue

James 3:1 Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment, 2 for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body. 3 Now when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide the whole animal. 4 And consider ships: Though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell. 7 Every sea creature, reptile, bird, or animal is tamed and has been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 We praise our Lord and Father with it, and we curse men who are made in God’s likeness with it. 10 Praising and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers, these things should not be this way. 11 Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.

INTRO: This morning we will continue in this series through the Book of James on Practical Christian Living. The Book of James was written to help us how to understand our relationship with God and our relationship with each other better; to help us attain spiritual maturity; and to teach us how to live out our Christian faith.

Let's review what we've learned so far in this series:

In week 1 we learned who James was, whom his letter was written to, the purpose it was written, and the importance of this teaching.

In week 2 we learned that our faith will be tested, how to overcome trials, and how to transform the trials of life into triumphs.

In week 3 we learned that God calls us to be doers of His Word and not merely hearers - the blessing comes from the doing, not the hearing.

In week 4 we were warned about the destructive sin of favoritism, prejudice, racism - we learned how God is not partial, and we learned how a Christian should properly relate to others who are different from us. We learned to recognize that although we may look differently, or come from different places, or belong to different socio-economic groups, we are all ONE in the Body of Christ.

Last week, we learned that faith and works go hand in hand. A faith that does not produce the work of Christ within us, is no faith at all. Real faith will always produce the work of Christ. Our faith must be demonstrated through our works.

As we continue to move forward through this series, this week we will examine another issue that is a problem area in the lives of most Christian people: CONTROLLING THE TONGUE.

Illustration: (human tongue) Though the tongue may seem like a simple organ, it has a wide range of purposes, such as licking, breathing, tasting, assisting in chewing, swallowing, and in articulating speech.

Here's a couple of interesting tidbits about the tongue - Sticking out your tongue is considered unacceptable behavior in many cultures, but it is a sign of respect in others. For instance, in Tibet, sticking out the tongue is considered a proper greeting. When two people meet, they stick out their tongues at each other.

Typically a human tongue is around 3.3 inches for men and 3.1 inches for women. The world’s longest tongue is only 3.97 inches long, from the tip to the middle of the closed top lip, and belongs to Nick Stoeberl of Salinas, California, according to Guinness Book of World Records.

Even though the tongue is very small, the Bible says it is powerful:

James 3:5 So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites.

Although the tongue has many functions, the only function the Bible is addressing when it speaks of controlling the tongue, is the role the tongue plays in articulating speech. In other words, when the Bible uses the word "tongue" it is not concerned with the actual flesh and blood organ that assists in chewing, swallowing, or tasting, but the manner in which we use of the tongue in the process of speech. It's addressing the words we use, and the way we use words to communicate with others.

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