Summary: We can prevent many fires by controlling what we say!
• SLIDE #1
• How do many fires start? They usually start with a small flame or a small spark.
• The fires we recently experienced were most likely started by a small spark.
• The one near the fort started from what I was told from a spark from a bulldozer hitting a rock.
• It is amazing the damage just a small spark can do!
• We saw firsthand what kind of damage a small spark can cause with our recent fires.
• Have you noticed that even though the fires are out in our area, we are still suffering from them?
• Since the the fires burned off a lot of vegetation from the mountain, now many are worried about the potential of losing their homes to flood waters.
• A small spark can do damage in the short-term and it can have long-term effects on those who live in the path of the carnage caused by the spark.
• Think about what we say for a minute, do you think we can cause just as much damage in the lives of others by what we say?
• In the context of this passage, James starts out in verse one with a warning about becoming a teacher.
• In the early church, it was an honor to be a teacher, you did not have to beg or cajole people to be teachers, and it was looked upon as a distinct honor to be a teacher.
• James then goes on to explain two reasons for his warning. One is that fact that teachers will be held to a higher level of accountability because of the great responsibilities they have. The second reason is that is explained in verses 2-12 is the fact that what we say has the power to either build or destroy.
• This message in verse 2-12 is not just for teachers, but for all Christians to heed.
• Turn to James 3 with me.
• SLIDE #2
• James 3:2 (ESV) 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.
• SLIDE #3
I. The art of prevention. (2-5a)
• Would it have better to have been able to prevent the Monument fire than if was to have to put it out after it started?
• There are some reasons for us to work on preventing fires before they start.
• SLIDE #4
A. Understand the blessings of practicing fire prevention. (2)
• In verse two James reminds us that we stumble in many ways, but if we can exert some discipline in what we say, we are a perfect person. The word “perfect” could be better rendered “mature”.
• If we can gain control over our speech, that shows a mark of maturity. In the context of a teacher, it was especially important that one had control of their speech.
• In this whole section, James uses the image of the tongue to represent our speech.
• Notice that in verse two, we are told that if you can exhibit self-control in your speech, then you can control the whole body as well.
• To ‘bridle” the whole body means “to govern or control”
• SLIDE #5
• Proverbs 21:23 (ESV) 23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
• We can keep ourselves out of a lot of trouble by watching what we say!
• Look at the damage that was done by the fires; think about the damage that could be coming from the rains because of the fire.
• Would it not been better to not have had the fire in the first place?
• How many people have been hurt by thoughtlessly carelessly spoken words?
• How many times have you wished you could take something back you have said before?
• Prevention is a blessing! It keeps us from doing a lot of needless damage to others and to ourselves!
• Look at verse 3
• SLIDE #6
• James 3:3 (ESV) 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.
• SLIDE #7
B. Exercise the discipline required to prevent fires. (3)
• How do you control a horse that is larger than you so that you can ride them?
• You use a bit. But…
• Interestingly enough, no horse has ever bridled himself. No horse has ever put a bit into his own mouth.
• So, too, we normally don’t bridle ourselves. But, our master trainer Jesus seeks to control our speech with the bit of God’s Word.
• When the trainer wants the horse to stop he pulls back on the reins, the bit then presses against the horse’s tongue causing him to stop.