Summary: Looking at Man's rules and God's views. This is the 3rd sermon in the series James, Faith in action. We need to be guarded against what our tongue can say and what our anger can do and we need to see what faith in action is all about...
Well this is our third Sunday in the book of James. Last week we looked at James 1:19-25 and this week we are primarily looking at James 1:26-27, but I want to back to James 1:19-21. One of you asked last week if I just skipped over the controlling your tongue and anger thing on purpose. Have no fear, I have a plan!
Well I had a plan! We have been looking at faith in action, and today we are going to look at what pure religion is. From our text today I hope you see three things. I hope you see we are:
1. called to be guarded
2. called to a life of compassion
3. called to be in the world, but not of it
We are going to talk about the tongue and anger and then look at what pure religion is. So often we hear the word “Religion” and it can conger up feelings of anger, fear and disappointment. And often religion has become about “manmade rule” instead of “God’s rules.”
Many have been hurt by these man made rules and therefore have left the church and have hard feelings towards the church. Before we look at what pure religion is let’s look at James 1:19-21, 26:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
I. A call to be guarded
Like I said before, we are called to be guarded. In these verses we see that we need to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Let’s look at the listening and speaking idea first.
a. Watching our tongue
A stock boy at a grocery store was asked by an elderly lady, “Can I buy half a head of lettuce?” He walked back to the manager’s office, not realizing that the lady followed him. He said to the manger, “You’re not going to believe this, but there’s an old bat out there who wants to buy half a head of lettuce.”
He turned around and saw her standing right behind him. Quickly he added, “And this fine lady would like to buy the other half.” (sermon central)
Thomas Watson said: God has given us two ears, but one tongue, to show that we should be swift to hear, but slow to speak. God has set a double fence before the tongue, the teeth and the lips. (Thomas Watson)
I like that…think of your teeth and lips as a double fence guarding what may come out. I don’t know about you, but I have found my mouth can open up quickly before my mind has fully processed what I am saying.
The tongue can be the most deadly weapon known to human kind. It may not kill someone immediately, but it can start a massive war. Let me repeat that and think about it for a moment: It may not kill someone immediately, but it can start a massive war.
Our teeth, lips and most importantly, our minds are the fence which guards and filters what comes from our tongue. What are we saying out loud.
Later in James we read in chapter 3:9-10 we hear this: With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
You may be familiar with Karen Carpenter, the popular singer from the seventies who died in 1983 of heart failure. Most people know that her heart attack was caused by anorexia.
Basically, she starved herself to death. But what started it all? According to a 1988 CBS television movie, the "Karen Carpenter Story," her "fatal obsession with weight" began when a interviewer called her Richard’s "chubby sister".
That little phrase was all it took to start her on a tragic journey of self-destruction. The author of that article had no intention of causing her harm. Nevertheless, those few words had a profound effect on her life. (Illustration by Alan Perkins sermon Central) Reference: USA Today, December 30, 1988, "Carpenter Story sings a familiar refrain," by Matt Roush. Citation)
What are we saying with our mouths? Will we be praising or hurting?
b. Watching our anger
Secondly we are to be slow to become angry. I use to be a very angry person and I would bottle up my anger, and like a tea kettle…all of a sudden I would start to blow. Now for many years I know God has given me victory in that area, however it is one area of my life I need to review daily and bring it to the cross.