Summary: An entertaining sermon based on a great clip from a classic Christmas movie. It is about the tongue getting us in trouble.

Hung by the Tongue

James 3:1-12

Start with video clip from “A Christmas Story”

There is no doubt that our tongue can get us in trouble.

Maybe not stuck to a flagpole... but our words have often gotten us into jams we could not get out of...RIGHT????

That is what James had in mind as he wrote the words found in the third chapter.

“Within the church today, we would be quick to avoid murder, stealing, committing adultery or drunkenness, but we assassinate fellow believers and leave destruction in our wake by the way we use our tongues.”

James has more to say about the tongue than any other book of the bible. Today we want to hear three things he has to say...

1. The tongue is very small but VERY POWERFUL

2. The tongue is very small but VERY DANGEROUS

3. The tongue is very small but VERY REVEALING

1. The tongue is very small but VERY POWERFUL!

The tongue is like dynamite... small but powerful and able to be used for good or for evil.

I love riding through the mountains and seeing the rock walls of the roads. Sometimes you will see long vertical lines about one foot apart. Those are the drill lines where they drilled down and inserted charges of dynamite. Used in just the right amounts at just the right place, the dynamite is useful to remove the rock in perfect harmony. However, if the workers had not had the training and skill to judge where and how much to use... they could have blown away the whole side of the mountain and destroyed the previous work.

In the same way.... words if used in just the right amount, timing, place and spirit can do a world of good. Conversely, when used incorrectly they can create a world of hurt and problems.

Is there a husband here who has not experienced this firsthand?

One of the greatest illustrations of the power of the tongue is one from Paul Harvey...

In 1899 four newspaper reporters from Denver, CO, set out to tear down the Great Wall of China. They almost succeeded. Literally.

The four met by chance one Saturday night, in a Denver railway depot. Al Stevens, Jack Tournay, John Lewis, Hal Wilshire. They represented the four Denver papers: the Times, the Post, the Republican, the Rocky Mountain News.

Each had been sent by his respective newspaper to dig up a story—any story—for the Sunday editions; so the reporters were in the railroad station, hoping to snag a visiting celebrity should one happen to arrive that evening by train.

None arrived that evening, by train or otherwise. The reporters started commiserating. For them, no news was bad news; all were facing empty-handed return trips to their city desks.

Al declared he was going to make up a story and hand it in. The other three laughed.

Someone suggested they all walk over to the Oxford Hotel and have a beer. They did.

Jack said he liked Al’s idea about faking a story. Why didn’t each of them fake a story and get off the hook?

John said Jack was thinking too small. Four half-baked fakes didn’t cut it. What they needed was one real whopper they could all use.

Another round of beers.

A phony domestic story would be too easy to check on, so they began discussing foreign angles that would be difficult to verify. And that is THE REST OF THE STORY.

China was distant enough, it was agreed. They would write about China.

John leaned forward, gesturing dramatically in the dim light of the barroom. Try this one on, he said: Group of American engineers, stopping over in Denver en route to China. The Chinese government is making plans to demolish the Great Wall; our engineers are bidding on the job.

Harold was skeptical. Why would the Chinese want to destroy the Great Wall of China?

John thought for a moment. They’re tearing down the ancient boundary to symbolize international good will, to welcome foreign trade! Another round of beers.

By 11:00 p.m. the four reporters had worked out the details of their preposterous story. After leaving the Oxford Bar, they would go over to the Windsor Hotel. They would sign four fictitious names to the hotel register. They would instruct the desk clerk to tell anyone why asked that four New Yorkers had arrived that evening, had been interviewed by reporters, had left early the next morning for California.

The Denver newspapers carried the story. All four of them. Front page. In fact, the Times headline that Sunday read: GREAT CHINESE WALL DOOMED! PEKING SEEKS WORLD TRADE!

Of course, the story was a phony, a ludicrous fabrication concocted by four capricious newsmen in a hotel bar.

But their story was taken seriously, was picked up and expanded by newspapers in the Eastern U.S. and then by newspapers abroad.

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