Summary: The tongue poses perhaps the greatest threat to the kingdom of God and the church today. It is as serious if not more serious than any other problem we face for it is the tongue that reveals what’s inside of us. Controlling the tongue isn’t a luxury! Acco
It seems that over the past several months the media has had a heyday with the church. For some time you couldn’t turn on the television without hearing about some new development in the decay of the Catholic Church. More and more accusations have been made against priests around the area of sexual misconduct. Just recently the Episcopalian Church has been in the spotlight for the controversy of their new homosexual bishop. Every time I hear another story my heart breaks in two, not because I condone what is going on but because the eyes of the world are on the church and many are saying, “I told you that the church is nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.”
But here’s what’s even more frightening to me than any of these scandals that are in the eyes of the media. People don’t need to look to the misconduct of Catholic priests to find hypocrisy. They need not go any farther than their own local community and their own community churches. There’s a force that’s destroying the church that comes from within us, a force that has done as much if not more damage than any other problem the church has ever encountered. I’m talking about the inability of Christians to control their tongues. You may think that this issue pales in comparison to what’s going on in the Catholic Church, but I would say that due to the sheer magnitude of this problem that it poses just as serious of a threat to the Kingdom of God as any other problem. For across the country, around the world church members are some of the most skilled gossips. Church members are some of the cruelest, meanest people around. Tell me, if you were outside of the church and you saw people behave like we inside the church often do, if you heard people from within the church talking about each other and about their pastors the way church people do would you want to be a part of us?
One of the things I’ve learned over the past year of living here is that small towns can be cruel places. What we think is harmless gossip in fact is some of the cruelest talk that can occur. I should know. The Pastor and his/her family are always some of the most talked about people in town. Everyone watches them. Everyone talks about them, but just because that’s the norm doesn’t mean it’s right. For too long we as the church have a made a sport out of gossiping. People get together for the sole purpose of gossiping. The time has come for that to stop. If we as the church are to accomplish the things God desires of us then we must learn to control our tongues.
The havoc that the tongue can wreak is monumental! It is the tongue as we’ll learn today that can either build things up or tear them down. It is a beast that is too frequently out of control. As Christians we are admonished to tame that beast and rather than inflicting wounds use it to build the Kingdom of God.
Join me this morning as we seek to tame the beast within each of us and examine practical guidelines for controlling our tongues. Let us pray…
If you’re following along in the outline that’s in your bulletins this morning you’ll see that there are three truths about the tongue from James 3. The first truth is that the tongue is small but POWERFUL. The author of James begins chapter 3 by speaking of the power of the tongue. He says that if you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, in other words, if you could find someone who knew how to control his/her tongue at all times, who never said anything wrong, then you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.
I don’t know about you, but my biggest mistakes are the ones I make with my mouth. They’re words that I say that I shouldn’t say or words that I don’t say that I should. 99% of the trouble that I find myself in, in the church, in life, and in my family is a result of this little instrument right here (point to tongue). This is an extremely powerful instrument. Just like the bit in the mouth of a horse that guides its entire body, or the small rudder on a large ship that directs the ship even in a powerful storm, so the tongue even though it’s a small part of our body is perhaps the most powerful part.
The second truth about our tongue that we find in this passage is found in verses 5b through 8. The author says: “How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but NO ONE CAN TAME THE TONGUE - a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” The tongue is small but DANGEROUS!