Summary: The sins of the toungue are like a wild fire in process. God can control our words and put out the devastation of the fire of our lips.
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