Summary: The sermon deals with what a Christian says. A Christian must speak with care because they understand the power of the tongue.
Subject: What a Christian Says - Speaking With Care
Text: James 3: 1-12*
Introduction: As we continue our study in the book of James, our attention is called to what a Christian says. Chapter 1 deals with what a Christian has and is seen in a faith that can stand under pressure. Chapter 2 deals with what a Christian does and is shown by faith in action. Now, in Chapter 3, we examine what a Christian says acknowledging that Christians must speak with care. We are generally fond of talking, but we are not always careful about what we say. Let us hear attentively what the Scriptures have to say about the tongue, but especially an unruly tongue.
James addressed the leadership of the church in this chapter, those men and women who teach and instruct others in the congregation. There were many who wanted to be teachers, but they failed to recognize the increased responsibility of the position. In the third chapter of James, we are given another measure of spiritual maturity "by the level of control in our talk." James, in addressing another key area of the faith walk, lifted up two areas (1) controlled talk, or the believer’s speech and (2) cultivated thought, or the believer’s mind. The mouth is connected with the mind. The believer’s speech reflects what is in his heart and head. Both controlled talk and cultivated thought are necessary.
James moved us from his discussion of idle faith to a discussion of idle talk. Although this passage addresses those who find themselves in leadership roles, he is also addressing the church as a whole. Emphasis is placed on the connectivity of the talk and the mind. Three things are said about the tongue: (1) the tongue is powerful, (2) the tongue is reveals our heart and (3) the tongue must be bridled. Three things are taught about the mind: (1) True wisdom is humble (2) true wisdom is gracious and (3) true wisdom is peaceable.
Besides this, James uses several objects to describe the benefits of a controlled tongue and reveals its potential. First, the tongue is compared a bit in a horse’s mouth. It will guide the whole body of the horse. With a bit, it may be easily managed, and controlled. Even so, if a man’s tongue be well governed, the rest of the man will be under command. Secondly, he compared the tongue to the rudder that governs the whole ship, turning the ship in any direction. As the rudder is but a small thing in comparison to the much greater bulk of a ship, it has power to guide and direct the path of the vessel. In like manner, the tongue has power to guide a man’s life. Thirdly, James compares the tongue to a fire, or a spark. As a spark may cause a fire that can burn a house, a little thing like the tongue may stir up great trouble. There is great power in the tongue. Stella, the great theologian says, “An unruly tongue is worse than the fire of hell, for that (the fire of hell) torments only the wicked; but this (unruly tongue) afflicts all, both bad and good.” Finally, James calls the tongue an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Although all the wild animals of the earth can be, or have been tamed, no man can tame his tongue.
Christians must speak with care because they recognize the power of the tongue and the need for God’s help in controlling the tongue. They know the necessity of eliminating inconsistencies in conversations and how our speech is a revelation of the contents our hearts and minds. Let us examine these ideas further.
The Christian must recognize the power of the tongue. Several scriptures point out the power of our speech.
James 3:5 says, “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Proverbs 18:21)
"Keep thy tongue from evil and thy lips from speaking guile." (Psalm 34:13)
"He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life; but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction." (Proverbs 13:3)
"Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue, keepeth his soul from troubles." (Proverbs 21:23)
"For he that will love his life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips that they speak no guile." (I Peter 3:10)
A Christian must speak with care because every word spoken brings death or life, lifts up or tears down, blesses or curses. If it is a leader’s voice, multiply the results by ten!
Christians must acknowledge that we need God’s help in taming the tongue. “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8)