Summary: As those who are called to live our faith we need to restrain our tongues. To do so takes the use of heavenly wisdom.
You Can Listen to the Full Sermon Here:-
I’ve been sitting in the food court of Chermside Shopping Centre when a child will throw themselves on the floor yelling and screaming and hitting the ground all the while ignoring the pleas of his mother to calm down and be quiet. And she is embarrassed. She knows her child is not showing restraint – and some people at the shop will make a judgement about her parenting skills as a result.
When I was younger I had a group of friends from work who always went drinking on the weekend. I didn’t like to drink so I was always the designated driver – which can be a lot of fun especially when you see how the excess use of alcohol lowers the inhibitions of people.
I had one mate who, the more he drank, the more attractive he thought he became.
After enough drinks he would approach the most gorgeous woman in the room and hit on them.
They always said “no” – but that didn’t restrain him.
In the end he would make a complete fool of himself.
We all knew it. All the women in the club knew it. It was a judgement which came because he could not restrain himself.
Showing Restraint is an important characteristic. In fact, showing restraint is a Godly characteristic.
James 3:1-18 teaches us these truths (read).
As we read this passage is quickly becomes obvious that the best way to show restraint is to take control of our tongue. As someone once observed:- The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail more than his tongue.
We can laugh – but it true. As a result of an unrestrained tongue …
… we have had our fair share of broken relationships, and hurtful misunderstandings.
… and there have been too many times when people have been put offside because of false accusations and rumours.
… there have also been break-downs in fellowship and the consumption of gossip.
Our tongue is one of the biggest troublemakers in our lives … and it is time to stop its impact. That is what James is going to help us do. And he starts by showing us that
The tongue has disproportionate power.
It is like a bit in a horse’s mouth.
A wild horse can be a ferocious animal. Think of the many rodeo riders who seek to ride these untamed beasts. The horse bucks and jumps and stamps and twists all in an effort to remove the rider. Yet, with the use of a very small bit, this same force and be controlled and used for more admirable purposes. At one time horses were the main form of transport, they were used for working farms, since the earliest times they have been used in war. Just through the use of a small bit the power of the horse could be harnessed.
It is like the rudder on a ship.
Compared to the rest of the ship the rudder is tiny – but only it can control the direction of the boat. Strong winds will try and blow a large ship off course and onto rocks; this small rudder fights against this force and brings the ship to safety. Without the rudder the ship would be lost. It has disproportionate power for its size.
The tongue has disproportionate power.
The drunk who caused the death of three others in a car accident boasted before he left, “I can hold my booze … it doesn’t affect me”. The boast of his tongue has caused death and destruction far beyond its strength. It’s a negative outcome.
April 20 1999 is the day of the Columbine High School massacre. At the funeral of Rachel Scott, a girl died because she would not renounce her faith in Jesus, a testimony of faith is given … and through the power of the tongue a 100 young people gave their lives to the Lord and were snatched from hell. It’s a positive outcome.
Our tongues have disproportionate power:-
… the power to break and the power to fix.
… the power to manipulate and the power to encourage.
… the power to tear-down and to build-up.
Either way the power is disproportionate. So the question becomes “Will I use this disproportionate power for God, or will I use it for myself?” James helps us answer the question by showing us
The destructive power of the tongue.
It has the destructive power of a fire.
We have had enough experience with fires to that one spark is all it takes and, before you know it, lives are destroyed, and whole streets of homes are lost.
The impact of the tongue is the same … a fact which was clearly understood by the girl who asked her Mum which was a worse sin gossip or stealing. Her mother told her that both were as bad as each other; but the girl insisted that gossip was worse.