Summary: Good words follow faith and good works.
20060917 Web Site Sermon
Title: Talk Like a Pirate… or Not
Text: James 3:1-12
Thesis: In consistent Christian living, “good words” follow “faith” and “good works”.
On Sunday, September 8, 2002, Columnist Dave Barry posted his column in the Miami Herald. He wrote, “Every now and then, some visionary individuals come along with a concept that is so original and so revolutionary that your immediate reaction is: “Those guys should be on medication.”
It happened on June 6, 1995 that while John Baur and Mark Summers were playing racquetball, they began talking like pirates. It began innocently enough with an “Arrr!” and from that day on Baur has been known as “Ol Chum Bucket” and Summers has been known as “Cap’n Slappy.” It seems they had so much fun that they thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a day when everyone talks like a pirate? So the seized upon September 19th as the logical day, because that was Summer’s ex-wife’s birthday.
This coming Tuesday, September 19, is Talk Like a Pirate Day. Many folks, around the world and even here in the Denver metro area, will dress like pirates and salt their words with pirate talk. They will answer their phones, “Ahoy my hearty. Shiver me timbers and hoist me jib.”
If you are interested I can give you a couple of vocabulary pointers:
• Ahoy means, hello.
• Avast means, stand and give attention.
• Aye means, yes, I agree.
• Aye, Aye means, yes, I’ll get right to it.
• Me hearties and me mates means, the people you live, work and play with.
• Arrr means, anything… I’m winning. I’m loosing. I’m alive. This is great pie, etc.
Given that Talk Like a Pirate Day is just around the corner it is fitting that we explore what the Scripture has to say about taming the tongue. James says, “A rudder is a tiny thing that makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go, even though the winds be strong. So also, the tongue is a small thing…” James 3:4
It is fitting as well that we note that the teaching on the tongue follows an extended discussion of how faith is reflected in good works in James 2.
In this context it would seem that faith is also reflected in good words. Our words may either support and substantiate and validate our profession of faith and our good works. Or, our words may totally discredit our profession of faith and nullify our good deeds. What comes out our mouths either validates or invalidates our faith and works.
James is not in the least naïve about the challenge of controlling one’s tongue. Right up front he states, “We all stumble or make mistakes 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.” James 3:2 Yet, however difficult or challenging it may be to manage one’s tongue and control one’s speech, it is a necessary part of living life in the Spirit. What we say is of huge importance.
I. Our Words Have Awesome Impact.
I think it is accurate to say that the words we say create or exacerbate most of the conflicts we face. Most of the hurt done in our homes, in our church, in our neighborhoods and in the workplace are the results of words. Most divorces are not caused by infidelity or desertion – they are caused by words. Conflicts between the generations are not caused by the generation gap, they are caused by words. Self-esteem or the lack there of is largely the result of words. Words are small but they are very powerful.
A. Our Words Have Power For Good
“We can make a large horse turn… by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a tiny rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go.” James 3:3-4
James uses two metaphors to describe the power of small things to do great and good things. One is the bit in a horses mouth and the other the rudder of a ship.
When I was in the third grade, my teacher was Mrs. Beaman. Lucille Beaman. I was small and had to wear suspenders to keep my pants up. I was a country kid attending town school. I was self-conscious… but Mrs. Beaman changed my life. She would whisper in my ear, “Monty, you are a good speller.” “Monty, you are a good writer.” “Monty, you read very well.” “Monty, you have such a nice smile.”
What if, in our homes and in our church and in our workplaces we became whispers of good, encouraging, enabling, uplifting, edifying words?
It follows that just as words have power for good, they also have potential for bad.