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Summary: Let me begin by asking you a question that you will probably prefer not to answer. When was the last time your mouth got you in trouble? Have you ever said something this you wish you had not?

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“Taming the Tongue”

James 3:1-12

Let me begin by asking you a question that you will probably prefer not to answer. When was the last time your mouth got you in trouble? Have you ever said something this you wish you had not? If I were to ask you what is the most hurtful thing anyone has ever done to you? I suspect you might describe some horrible words that were spoken to you. When we speak those kinds of words we often wish we could simply reach out and grab them and pull them back in. But as you know that’s impossible. Once we have spoken them the damage is done. We can say that’s not what I meant; what I meant to say was... Doesn’t matter. We can say well I was angry; I was emotional and we can even apologize but still the damage has been done.

All of this should remind us that in the area of relationships there may not be anything more important than learning to control our speech. James begins this passage by addressing those who are considering becoming Bible teachers. He says to them not many of you should be eager to become Bible teachers for this simple reason. You will be judged with more strictness. Bible teachers will be judged by God and also by those who hear them teach. James doesn’t say this to discourage those who want to teach, he simply wants all of us to take this responsibility seriously. The reason is simple. Our words have power and if you are in charge of a class in a place of leadership you have the capacity to shape lives. If you plan to teach you must be spiritually qualified. Teachers must practice what they teach. Teachers must be careful what they say with both their words and life. If a doctor neglects his own health; if an accountant can’t balance his checkbook; if an attorney violates the law it contradicts what they stand for. Likewise if a Bible teacher uses their words to tear down their students it contradicts what they stand for.

James continues to speak to the teacher but now he enlarges his audience as he says we all stumble in many ways. Notice here in verse two that James uses the word “we.” In other words, he too makes mistakes with his words. All of us do. At the same time we show our maturity when we control our tongue. The text here teaches that if a person disciplines his tongue he can control his whole body as well. If we can bring the tongue under control we will be able to keep other areas of life in check as well. In other words the tongue is pour biggest problem.

You see what we say and often what we don’t say are very important. Sometimes it is about saying the right words at the right time but it is also about controlling your desire to say something you shouldn’t. Let me give you a few examples of an untamed tongue. One that is out of control.

• When we Gossip

• When we are critical

• Bragging

• Manipulating

• false teaching

• complaining

• flattery

• lying

• spreading false words/rumors


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