Summary: A message concerning the speech of Christians.

Talk is Cheap…Or Is It?

Holiness in our Speech

James 3:1-12, various Scriptures

I. Introduction

This morning we take our third look at the importance of holiness in our lives.

Holiness, you remember from our introductory message two weeks ago, is to be sought first and foremost because GOD is holy, and those who claim to be His children need to reflect outwardly the holiness He works inside us.

Last week we talked about the battle ground of holiness and the battle plan of holiness. The battle ground being our heart and mind, and the battle plan consisting mainly of spending more time in the Word of God, but also including such things as fellowship, worship, etc.

Today we tackle one of the tangible expressions of holiness: our speech.

I need to state at this point that this message is going to be uncomfortable for some of you.

I know that because it is uncomfortable for me.

I am going to say some things many of you may very well not want to hear, but need to be said anyway.

So if I tend to seem a little apprehensive as we begin, it is because I am new to using the pulpit to condemn what I think is ungodly behavior, in this case, speech, but I am convinced that what I have to share today is God’s message, not merely my own.

And I beg for your prayers as I bring this message.

The title of this message is, Talk is Cheap – Or Is It? I am not talking about how actions speak louder than words, but about the price we pay in our speech. You will see what I mean as we go on.

Scripture has a lot to say about our speech, with admonitions to use our tongues in ways that honor God and our fellow man. One passage in particular stands out, and it will provide the basis for our time together.

Please turn with me to James 3:1-12

-Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt [1] water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.-

Verse 11 sets the stage for the focus of my remarks today. My purpose this morning is to highlight some differences between harmful and holy speech.

We will spend contrasting harmful speech on one hand, and holy speech on the other.

Let’s begin…

II. Harmful vs. Holy Speech

A. Our first type of speech is slander. The dictionary defines slander as a false report maliciously uttered and tending to injure the reputation of a person.

Slander is a vicious activity that I hope no one here would dream of engaging in.

If you have been a victim of slander, you know the damage it can cause in your relationships with people, many of whom you had great relationships, but now avoid, ignore, or otherwise shrink from the closeness you once had.

Please allow me to read from Proverbs 11:9 – With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape.-

One who wants to reflect the holiness of God cannot engage in slander. It’s that simple.

“Hang on, Preacher! None of us would be so brazen as to attempt to destroy our neighbor.”

Maybe, but many Christians engage in a little thing called gossip.

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