Summary: One way to organize this passage is to divide it into three primary sections. First we see James deal with the pride of speech (vv. 1-2a). Second he deals with the power of speech (vv. 2b-5a). Lastly, he deals with the perversion of speech (vv. 5b-12).
How To Put Out the Fire of the Tongue (Part 1)
Preached by Pastor Tony Miano
Pico Canyon Community Church
April 29, 2001
Introduction: My girls and I have begun a new hobby of sorts. We’re researching our family tree. I had an opportunity a couple of weeks ago—in fact, it was Easter Sunday—to go through some old papers I had in storage. Among the documents, school assignments and the like were my elementary school report cards.
As I looked at my first grade report card, I reflected on the fact that my Grandfather, my Father, and I all sat in the same first grade classroom—Room #2 of Lyndora Elementary School. I looked at the “Scholarship” section of the report card and showed my daughters that daddy got straight “A’s” for the last three reporting periods. Reading, writing, and mathematics were the only three grade categories. Boy, that was a long time ago. I gave them a short little speech on how important good grades are to their future. They smiled and listened intently. But they had this look on their face that said, “Oh-oh—Daddy’s getting revved-up. I think there’s a sermon coming.”
Then my eye caught the section of the report card entitled “Citizenship and Personality Development.” I had to laugh as I saw the check marks in the small boxes that represented areas of behavior where I needed work. Now my daughters were really interested. “What’s so funny, Dad?” They asked.
I opened up the report card so they could see and pointed to the section entitled “Social Attitudes.” I pointed to #7 on the list and showed them how many check marks I received in “listens attentively without interrupting.”
Each grading period had a check mark, accept the last one. Instead of a check mark, my teacher, Mrs. Martsoff, simply wrote these words along the side of the report card. “He’s working at it.” Even though I was only six years old, I think she resigned herself to the fact that being talkative would be a character trait that would stay with me for a long time. If Mrs. Martsoff could only see me now!
My speech has gotten me into trouble over the years and it has gotten me out of trouble as well. The tongue is a very influential, powerful, and dangerous tool in the hands of man. This morning, as we begin to study James 3:1-12, we’ll see what James has to say about this small but mighty weapon. In the process, let’s see if we can’t come up with some ways to put out the fire of the tongue. Follow along as I read James 3:1-12.
This passage of Scripture has been divided and subdivided in several different ways. For our study this morning, probably the most manageable way to organize this passage is to divide it into three primary sections. First we see James deal with the pride of speech (vv. 1-2a). Second he deals with the power of speech (vv. 2b-5a). Lastly, he deals with the perversion of speech (vv. 5b-12).
I had originally planned to study these first twelve verses in James 3, in one message, but there is just too much meat. The topic is too important for us to just peruse the passage. For those of you who have been worshiping with us for a while, I hope you’ve realized that we believe our time in the Word is precious.