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Summary: James tells us that the tongue is one of the most needed areas of life to be tamed and also the most difficult

Taming the Tongue

James 3:1-12

October 29, 2006

Evening Service


A cartoon from leadership magazine 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.

There are times that what we say can do nothing but cause trouble and difficulties. Our wards have a way of creating more trouble than we intend.

Can it be that the average person spends one-fifth of his or her life talking? That’s what the statistics say. If all of our words were put into print, the result would be this: a single day’s words would fill a 50-page book, while in a year’s time the average person’s words would fill 132 books of 200 pages each! Among all those words there are bound to be some spoken in anger, carelessness, or haste.

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. As a verb, gossip is a rumor or report of an intimate nature.

The sad reality of the matter is this: a gossip is a person who will talk about others with you and then talks to others about you.

I believe the best definition of gossip that I have found is this: gossip is saying something, even if it is true, with the intent to cause personal harm. By that definition we are all guilty.

• The family member that is considered to be a dead beat

• Co-worker is just plain lazy

• Person at church just gets on my nerves

This evening we are going to look at some scriptural principles for using our words. Open your bibles to the book of James 3:1-12.

1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 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. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. James 3:1-12

1. The Tongue needs to be Controlled

This passage is filled with some extremely clear word pictures to describe various aspects of the words that we use and their power. This morning as we look at these principles we will be looking at the word pictures that James uses.

James uses three different word pictures to describe the need for controlling the tongue - the bit, the rudder and animals being tamed. Each of these words in Greek gives an understanding of both restraint and direction.

If we are ever to gain control of the tongue, we must be able to restrain the words that we use, to hold back from speaking wrongly. We must also be able to give direction to speak that which is right and good. However, this is often easier said than done because if we’re honest with ourselves we have all said things we shouldn’t say.

• Times when we speak our minds and say just a bit too much

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