Summary: #12 in the series deals more with the power of the tongue and our inability to control it.

Hung by the Tongue

#12 in the Book of James Series

By Pastor Jim May

1) On a windswept hill in an English country churchyard stands a drab, gray slate tombstone. The quaint stone bears an epitaph not easily seen unless you stoop over and look closely. The faint etchings, worn by the ravages of time and weather, read:

Beneath this stone, a lump of clay, lies Arabella Young, Who on the twenty-fourth of May, began to hold her tongue.

Now it seems to me that this lady would have done well to learn and heed the words of James that we are going to study tonight. Whether anyone had the nerve to tell her while she was alive that she talked too much or not, she will ever be marked as someone who said her piece, even when her piece didn’t add up to much.

There was an old joke that some of you might not find funny that went like this: If you want to get some news to spread there are three very dependable means to do so. First you may use the telephone, then you may broadcast on the television, but the best method by far is to simply tell-a-woman! Now ladies, don’t get too upset because I know some men who can spread it faster than you can!

2) Sometimes the old television programs can bring back fond memories, creating a sense of nostalgia for the good old day. Most of them seemed harmless enough, even when they dealt with serious matters.

In the 1950s the “Honeymooners” often made comedy out of conflict in the home.

Who can forget Jackie Gleason when he would get mad at his wife about something and this is what he would say, “One of these days, Alice; one of these days – POW right in the kisser!”

It seemed harmless then, but today Jerry Springer makes entertainment out of conflict in the home -- and people should cry. Conflict in the home is a reality that isn’t really funny or entertaining. It is serious. It can be very painful, hurtful and divisive. And many times the conflict arises simply from what we say to each other and how we say it. To avoid that we must learn how to successfully control what we say to each other.

3) The manner in which we speak, and the words we say, can often make a difference in settling conflicts. Adolph Hitler and Winston Churchill were separated by the English Channel. But the difference between them was much greater than that. Both were powerful and influential speakers. But they did not use their abilities as speakers in the same way. Hitler used the power of his tongue to destroy. Churchill used the power of his tongue to bless.

So it is with each of us in the context of the human family. It is our choice as to whether we will use our words to encourage and build others in our families or not. We can make the choice.

3) They had just gotten the call to go to Afghanistan. The soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division were quickly boarding planes that would transport them to the dangerous battlefields of Afghanistan. The news report on their assignment was describing their long flight and the moment during their flight when the atmosphere suddenly got more intense. As they neared their landing zone, the men were issued their live ammunition and commanded to lock and load in preparation for exiting the aircraft. One man described the sobering reality of holding his ammunition in his hand. The thought came to him and he said, "Once you pull the trigger, there’s no way to get that round back."

I want to have A Word With You today about "Bullets You Can’t Get Back."

A bullet is so easy to fire. A bullet can do so much damage. A bullet can’t be taken back ... even if it’s a verbal bullet. Wounds from steel metal jacket cartridges may heal, but wounds that result from harsh words spoken in anger can cause wounds that may never heal.

James 3:5, "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!"

Last week in the message we saw that James compared the tongue to a bit in a horse’s mouth or a helm, or rudder of a ship. Like these small objects that carry such a powerful impact upon the direction that they travel and what they accomplish in their work, the tongue can either make you or break you in life.

Have you ever been around been people that like to brag? Bragging is like trying to flatter yourself at the expense of others, and even when what you have accomplished is really a great thing, no one wants to hear you brag. I often hear of preachers who have some really great churches who love to brag on what “they’ve” accomplished in “their” ministry.

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