Summary: Taming the tongue is a challenge for all of us as James points out. In this sermon I give some helpful strategies for controlling the tongue.


A. If your tongue has ever gotten you into trouble, then please raise your hand.

1. Turn to your neighbor and say, “I’m not surprised!”

2. We are not surprised, because it happens to all of us.

3. All of us have had the experience of saying something, and then wishing we had not said it!

B. I heard the story of a man who worked at a produce department of a grocery store.

1. A woman came up and asked if she could buy half a head of lettuce.

2. It had been one of those days, and before he could think he replied, “Half a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that’s how we sell them!”

3. The lady responded, “You mean that after all the years I have shopped here, you won’t sell me half-a-head of lettuce?”

4. “Look,” he said, “If you like I’ll ask the manager.” She indicated that would be appreciated.

5. So, the man marched away to find the manager and when he found him said, “You won’t believe this, but there’s a lame-brained idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce.”

6. As he was saying that, he noticed that the manager was trying to subtly stop his outburst.

7. The crazed worker turned around to see the lady standing behind him. Unbeknown to him, she had followed him as he searched for the manager.

8. But without skipping a beat, the worker said to the manager, “And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half of the head of lettuce.”

9. Later in the day the manager cornered the young man and said, “That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I’ve ever seen! Where did you learn that skill?”

10. The worker replied, “I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it’s known for its great hockey teams and its ugly women…”

11. But before the worker could proceed with his explanation the manager interrupted him, “My wife is from Grand Rapids!”

12. The worker quickly asked, “And which hockey team did she play for?”

C. Oh, how our tongues get us into trouble!

1. If my mother said it once, she said it a thousand times, “THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!”

2. Every day, you and I speak thousands of words.

3. That is a lot of opportunity for us to say the wrong thing, am I right about it?

D. As we begin chapter three of James, we notice that he devotes most of this chapter to the tongue and its implication for Christians.

1. As you know from our study thus far, James has been intent on helping us see the implications that our faith should have on our lives.

2. Last time we discussed James’ focus that a faith that saves is more than just something you say, feel or think, it is something you DO.

3. As we learn to do our faith, James has already shown us that our faith should impact the way we endure our trials, and the way we overcome our temptations.

4. He has already pointed out that because of our faith we should have a handle on our anger, and our propensity toward prejudice and favoritism.

5. James has summarized what God expects from us saying that, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

E. Now in chapter three, he returns to the subject of the tongue.

1. Back in chapter one he introduced the topic in two verses.

2. James 1:19, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry…”

3. James 1:26, “If anyone considers himself to be religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

4. James wants us to understand just how destructive and nullifying the tongue can be.

5. The negative influence of the tongue can override an otherwise godly life.

6. So, let’s see what points James makes in chapter three about the tongue, and then let’s work on some practical steps for taming the tongue.

I. James’ Pronouncements About The Tongue

A. James makes three pronouncements about the tongue here in chapter three.

B. First, James says that the TONGUE IS SMALL, BUT POWERFUL.

1. He perfectly illustrates his point with three common realities.

2. First, he reminds us of the fact that very large horses are controlled by a very small bit.

a. As you know, horses are incredibly powerful, many of them weigh about 2000 pounds.

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