Summary: Words are one thing that, once you let them go, you can never get back
James 3:1-12 – Taming the Tongue, can it be done?
Let’s talk about the tongue. I thought about bring out a real tongue for us all to see and feel, but then I thought again. Actually, we can do a little show and tell…turn to the person closest to you and show them your tongue, then take a look at theirs. Unless they’ve been drinking blue cool-aid or some coloured frosting, their tongue probably looks similar to yours, right? Pink in colour, weird in texture, and we won’t ask about the breath. Okay, tongues back in your mouths. It’s been said it’s the only muscle in the body connected at just one end…no wonder it’s described as a loose canon! Actually the tongue is a group of muscles, working in conjunction with each other to help us taste, speak and eat. Can anyone do any special things with their tongue? We don’t necessarily need to see! Here are some pictures of what some people can do with theirs, or what they’ve done TO theirs (picture)
We hear all sorts of advice on how to use the tongue, such as these:
• Don’t speak with a forked tongue. In other words, don’t say one thing to one person and something different to another person…don’t be a liar!
• We’ve all heard a parent or teacher tell us, ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say…don’t say anything at all.’ So true!
• Have you ever suffered from ‘foot-in-mouth’ disease? You open you mouth to say something and end up wishing you had never said a word.
• Improve your ability to speak clearly by using tongue twisters:
• She sells sea shells by the sea shore.
The shells she sells are surely seashells.
So if she sells shells on the seashore,
I’m sure she sells seashore shells.
• Irish wristwatch.
• The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.
With our tongue we can:
• Taste salty or sweet, sour or bitter.
• Praise God or praise ourselves
• Tell the truth or tell a lie
• Encourage a neighbour or gossip about them
• Pierce it with a silver stud, perhaps some people should just staple it closed?
• Bless our children or yell at their mistakes
• Whisper a prayer, proclaim an eloquent speech, or just boast about ourselves
• Testify about what God has done in our lives or remain silent on all issues relating to God
• Sing a song of praise to God or sing about what kind of partner we wish we had
• Belittle a child, a best friend, or our spouse
• Encourage one another in the Lord or just talk about the weather
James teaches us that the tongue is a pretty hard thing to control. And he has some stern warnings about using it in ways that are of no value to anyone. Let’s read the first 12 verses of James chapter 3.
Taming the Tongue
1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2We 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.
3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or 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. 5Likewise 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. 6The 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.
7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt[a] water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
That first verse always gives me a bit of holy fear when it comes to sharing the Word of God with you folks each week. I don’t take lightly the task of teaching what God has shown me in the Word from week to week. It does put a bit of pressure on knowing that what I say can influence how all of you understand God’s word. But my prayer is always this, that each of us would look into the passages that I speak from, and test my words to see that they are true and align properly with God’s Word. And if you find that I have erred in some way, please tell me, let me know. Because we all DO stumble in some ways, as James states. None of us are perfect. Not me, not you. No one but Jesus Christ has led a perfect life on this earth, and no one else ever will. So please don’t look to me as a perfect teacher, for I am not. I am only a humble servant of the Lord.