1. Speech, the Importance of: Pianist Arthur Rubenstein, who could speak in eight languages, once told this story on himself: Some years ago he had a stubborn case of hoarseness. The newspapers were full of reports about smoking and cancer; so he decided to consult a throat specialist. "I searched his face for a clue during the 30 minute examination," Rubenstein said, "but it was expressionless. He told me to come back the next day. I went home full of fears, and I didn’t sleep that night."
The next day there was another long examination and again an ominous silence. "Tell me," the pianist exclaimed. "I can stand the truth. I’ve lived a full, rich life. What’s wrong with me?" The physician said, "You talk too much." There are times, no doubt, when perhaps most of us, if not all of us, talk too much.
President Calvin Coolidge once said, “I have never been hurt by anything I didn’t say.”
2. Words – Volume of: Communication Experts state that the average person speaks enough words each day to fill about 20 typed pages. That would be 2 books of 300 pages per month. That is 24 books per year. That would be equivalent to 1200 volumes in 50 years!
3. James 3.1-12
I. Impact of Speech
A. The Privilege of Speech
1. [Examples of Privileges: US Citizenship; Conveniences of TV; Internet; Cell Phone, etc. – all can be misused
2. Caution is in order – note the observations in James:
a. Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 1.19
b. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 2.12
c. What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 4.1
d. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? 4.11-12
B. The Potentials of Speech – Proverbs 18.21
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
1. A look at Condemnation (3.1)
a. Appeal to the prestige of Teaching [Rabbis = superstars among the Jewish people; a popular and accepted teaching was: “If a person’s father and rabbi were held for ransom, ransom the rabbi first because the father brought the person into the world; the rabbi would bring them into the world to come.”
b. Accountability is High (Hebrews 13.17)
c. Attitudes of Teachers – Apollos in Acts 18.24-26
26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
d. Actions Along with Words – Ezra 7.10
For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
2. A Lesson on Control (3.2-5)
a. Speech impacts the whole person
b. Bits and Rudders
1) Small; overcome contrary forces – wind and current/wild nature of the horse
2) We need the strong hand of control – more than self, God – as Captain with rudder; horseman with the horse
II. Inconsistencies of Speech (3.6-12)
A. Devastation of Words (6-8)
1. Starting a Fire
• In his book, Be Mature, Warren Wiersbe tells of going into a used bookstore in London, England and remarked to the owner that he had expected to see more bookstores than there were. The owner gave him the reason – during WWII the Germans dropped incendiary bombs on London and the fires they produced destroyed at least one million books.
• Forest fires are often the result of an unattended fire or spark; a lit cigarette but can cost millions of dollars in lost timber over many acres of land.
• The Chicago Fire was supposedly traced to a cow kicking over a lantern in the O’Leary barn at 8.30 on October 8, 1871. Over 100,000 were left homeless; 17,500 buildings were destroyed; 300 people died; $400,000,000 in damages;
• Words can start fires, too
20 For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
21 As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. Proverbs 26.20-21
I said, “I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth with a muzzle,
so long as the wicked are in my presence.”
2 I was mute and silent;
I held my peace to no avail,
and my distress grew worse.
3 My heart became hot within me.
As I mused, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue: Psalm 39.1-3
2. Words Can Spread Fire as Fuel – James 3.6
Gossip/Slander, etc. are compared to sins of murder
[Three sins Hebrews would die rather than be forced to commit: Idolatry (Daniel); Immorality (Joseph); Murder (David vs. Saul)
B. Division of Words (9-12)
1. Bless God – Curse Man (First and Second commandments)
Little boy was selling a push lawnmower. Baptist preacher come along and wanted to buy it and asked did it run. "Yes sir", said the boy. The preacher pulled and pulled on the rope and said, "Son, this thing won’t start." The boy said, "That’s ‘cause you ‘gotta’ cuss it." The preacher said, "Son, I’m a Baptist preacher, and I haven’t cussed in 18 years." Boy said, "Keep pulling; it’ll come back to you."
2. Fountain of Water – fresh or salt, not both – Laodicea (Revelation 3.14ff Hot OR Cold)
a. Water is life-giving if Controlled
Johnstown Flood in 1889 – 2200 dead; $10,000,000 in damages; Modern Tsunami
b. Water is Cleansing if controlled (Priests in Tabernacle and Temple; Mikveh)
c. NOT Salt Water
3. Trees and Fruit
a. Useful for Shade/soil erosion/fruit/making oxygen
1) Words can feed The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense. Proverbs 10.21
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life John 6.63b
2) Words show fruit – But what comes out of your mouth is actually coming from your heart, and that is what makes a person unclean. Matthew 15.18
b. Root System – Deep for Life of the tree and bearing fruit – Psalm 1
1) Depths of Yeshua (Jesus) – The Lord GOD has given me
the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
he awakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught. Isaiah 50.4
William A. Ward (America’s most quoted writers of inspirational maxims) has said, "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
2) Yet, it’s the FRUIT, not the ROOT that gives us away – 15 “Beware of the false prophets! They come to you wearing sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are hungry wolves! 16 You will recognize them by their fruit. Can people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every healthy tree produces good fruit, but a poor tree produces bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a poor tree good fruit. 19 Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire! 20 So you will recognize them by their fruit. Matthew 7.15-20
1. Words are Significant
A little girl asked her father, "Daddy? Do all Fairy Tales begin with ’Once Upon A Time’?" He replied, "No, there is a whole series of Fairy Tales that begin with ’If elected I promise’."
A linguistics professor was lecturing to his English class one day. "In English," he said, "A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative." A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."
2. Twelve Words to Transform Your Life (W. Wiersbe, Be Mature):
• Please and Thank You – Show respect and appreciation
• I’m Sorry – Break Barriers and Build Bridges
• I’m Praying for You – when we talk to God about people we are qualified to talk to People about God
3. Guard Our Words
• Impact of Speech/Words
• Inconsistencies of Speech/Words