Summary: Controlling the tongue is a hard job to do, but not impossible.
JAMES 3:5-10 “TAMING THE TONGUE”
A) There was this cartoon from leadership magazine that shows a line of pews and the same
sentence being passed from pew to pew!
* 1st pew: My ear kind of hurts ... 2nd pew: The pastor has an earache.
* 3rd pew: The pastor got a hearing aid ... 4th pew: The pastor is having trouble hearing.
* 5th pew: The pastor got a double earring ... 6th pew: An old lady with a cane is walking out and
says, “That does it, I’m outta here! The pastor’s got a double earring.”
B) There are times that what we say can do nothing but cause trouble and difficulties!
* In fact, our words have a way of creating more trouble than we intend.
* Whether it’s the barbershop, restaurant, bank, grocery store, or even at church, your words can
cut like a knife and do permanent damage.
C) The Bible has a lot to say about the right and wrong use of the tongue!
* Speech is the most likely thing that we will do wrong.
* Everyone is guilty of sinning with the tongue, even Moses ... Psalm 106:32-33 “They angered
him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes: Because they .......”
* Moses sinned with his tongue and was then forbidden to enter the Promised Land.
D) James uses 3 different objects in his discussion of the tongue ... 1: The bit in the horse’s
mouth (v.3) ... The bit is such a small, insignificant thing!
* An average horse can weigh anywhere from 900-1300 pounds ... And even a young child that
weighs less than 100 pounds can make that horse go where he wants to with that bit in its mouth.
E) 2: The helm of a large ship (v.4) ... You have a large sailing vessel that is moved along by the
wind, yet the direction of the ship is controlled by a small rudder!
* The ship can even find itself in fierce winds, yet by the rudder the governor (pilot) can control
where he wants the ship to go and bring it to safety.
* In each case, the bit is used for the benefit of the rider, and the rudder is used for the benefit of the
pilot ... And James says in v.5a “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.”
F) The tongue is a small member, but it can be very beneficial!
* The tongue can be the instrument by which words of love can be spoken to the lonely ... It can be
an instrument by which words of comfort can be spoken to the brokenhearted.
* It can be an instrument by which words of encouragement can be spoken to the discouraged.
* It’s the instrument by which words of direction can be given to the confused ... Think of the many
people who have been saved because of the words someone shared with them.
G) But on the other hand, the tongue can be very destructive through gossiping!
* We don’t take gossiping seriously enough ... What exactly is gossip?
* Webster defines gossip in two ways, both as a noun and as a verb.
* As a noun, a gossip is a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others.
* As a verb, gossip is a rumor or a report of an intimate nature.
H) The sad reality of the matter is this ... A gossiper is a person who will talk about others with
you, and then talk to others about you!
* The best definition of gossip is this ... Gossip is saying something, even if it’s true, with the intent
to cause personal harm. (I’m gonna say more about this sin a little later in this message)
* James says the helm is small, but can direct the course of a large ship ... So it is with the tongue.
* The tongue can change a person’s course they are traveling, and cause shipwreck of their faith.
I) 3: A small fire (v.5b-6) ... The word “matter” in v.5 is the Greek word “hule” ( hoo-lay’ ) and
it means “a forest; i.e. fuel!”
* The meaning is that a great forest is set on fire by only a little spark of fire.
* Most fires start with just a little flame, then grows into a damaging blaze.
* So it is with the tongue ... The tongue is a fire that can set a whole forest of lives and
relationships on fire, consuming and destroying all that lies in its path.
J) One can do more harm by his words than good by his deeds!
* Just think about the great and terrible damage that has been done by the fire of words, rumors,