Summary: This five part sermon series explores the book of James, which is all about where the rubber meets the road, and discovers what real faith looks like in real life. Each sermon is expository and alliterated. Power point is available.
Real Faith for Real Life: James Three
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 10/14/2012
How many of you have ever said something and, the moment the words left your mouth, you knew you shouldn’t have said it? If I had a nickel for every time I said something stupid… well, a nickel isn’t worth a lot so I’d probably have $300-$400.
It reminds me of this story about three preachers from the same town but different churches who went out on a fishing trip together. Having spent the wholes day together on the middle of the lake, they started confiding in each other, and confessing their sins to one another. The first preacher started talking. “You know what my big sin is? My big sin is drinking. I know that it is wrong but I still do it.” The second preacher open up, “My big sin is gambling. I went to Las Vegas last year and lost thousands of dollars.” The third preacher started talking, “Guys I guess that I should have gone first.” The other two preachers looked puzzled and asked why. “My big sin is gossiping.”
Every day, you and I speak thousands of words. Studies show that we speak an average of 16,000 words per day. Some are carefully planned and selected; others are spoken impulsively. Some are spoken quietly; others are spoken with more volume. Some of our words are spoken with the desire to help and encourage; some with the motivation to hurt, belittle and retaliate. However, most of our words are spoken with little, if any, thought about how they will affect others.
A couple weeks ago we started this series through the book of James, which is all about real faith for real life. One of the primary messages of James is that real faith will affect every aspect of your life—the things you do, the things you feel, the things you think, and especially the things you say. Listen to what James has to say at the beginning of chapter three: “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body” (James 3:2 HCSB).
It’s embarrassing to stumble, isn’t it? But we all do it. We all make mistakes. And we all stumble in what we say. We let the wrong words fall from our mouths. What James is saying, is that our tongue is a sort of thermometer for our faith. It reveals our spiritual temperature. When our speech is full of truth and grace and gratitude and kindness and goodness and gentleness, it reveals the strength of our faith at work in our hearts. But when our speech is full of negativity and gossip and lying and venom, it reveals the weakness of our faith.
According to James, our words are very powerful. In fact, throughout this chapter James uses six word-pictures to illustrate the power of our words. We can put these six pictures into three meaningful categories that reveal the three powers of the tongue.
• THE POWER TO DIRECT
First, James says that the tongue has the power to direct. Here’s what he says, “We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches” (James 1:3-5 NLT).
Isn’t that the truth? I like what someone once said: “Talk is cheap because the supply always exceeds the demand.” The point James makes with these illustrations, though, is—just like we use a bit to direct a horse or rudder to direct a ship, our words have the power to influence and affect the course of our lives and the lives of others. The things you say can steer someone’s life in the right direction or the wrong direction.
I know a wonderful sister in Christ who, when she was just a little girl, overheard someone flippantly comment, “She couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.” And to this day, she won’t sing out loud in church. That comment affected and directed her life.
On the other hand, all throughout my childhood, my mom always told me, “You’re going to do great things.” I don’t know if I’ve lived up that. In fact, there were times when those words were a burden to me. But, my mom’s constant reassurance and faith in me has dramatically influence the direction of my life.
The things you say are influencing the people around you, even when you don’t know it. I heard about this little boy who was leaving church one Sunday morning when he slipped a dollar bill into the pastor’s hand. The pastor looked at him confused and asked him, “What’s that for?” The little boy looked up at him and said, “Cuz I felt sorry for you and want to help you out.” That confused him even more, so he asked, “Why do you feel you need to help me out?” Then the boy said, “Cuz my daddy says you’re the poorest preacher he’s ever heard.”