Summary: Message 17 in our exposition of James exploring James observations concerning the tongue.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
“Taming the Tongue”
For several weeks we have gazed into the mirror of God’s word exposing areas in our life where our daily behavior doesn’t match our belief. Genuine faith involves God’s sufficient inner persuasion to inspire our response. When we encounter a promise or proposition from God in His word, He stirs an inner persuasion to act on that promise. We act based on the authority of God and the validity of the proposition. God made the world out of nothing. The death of Jesus on our behalf makes reconciliation with God possible. God promises never to leave us or forsake us. Full faith in those propositions cause us to embrace them and respond accordingly.
James recorded instructions for those who claim to live by faith to follow.
He also provided numerous insights along the way related to those instructions.
I. Faith’s response to trials 1:2-27
Joyfully endure – continued endurance produces maturity and stability.
II. Faith’s response to partiality and prejudice 2:1-13
Love others as ourselves
III. Faith’s True Nature 2:14-26
Believe God and behave godly
Today we bravely venture once again in front of God’s mirror. This time to see what the mirror reveals about our speech, what comes out of our mouth, our conversations with others. What do the words uttered by our tongue reveal about out heart?
IV. Faith’s response to conversation 3:1-12
Control your speech
I find only one command in this next section. The bulk of this section provides the rationale for the command.
A. The instruction
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers,
Again, James demonstrates his personal affection for his readers. Two observations concerning his frequent use of the term “brothers”. One: he sees them as fellow followers of Jesus. Two: he expresses a warm affection for them.
He instructs them to avoid being a teacher. The rest provides the reason why they should not pursue becoming a teacher.
B. The insights
1. Insight #1 – you are subject to greater judgment
The first line of reasoning has to do with a higher accountability.
for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. James 3:1
Any time you encounter a “for” look for some type of reasoning to follow. Don’t rush into becoming a teacher because you intuitively know that teachers encounter greater scrutiny and accountability. James does not specify the source of this greater scrutiny or judgment. The assumption it will come from God. From experience, it could also be a reminder that those in the public eye often receive greater criticism and scrutiny. The more one talks, the greater the possibility of misspeaking.
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Proverbs 10:19
2. Insight #2 – everybody stumbles
James may have meant only teachers or expanded the insight regarding everyone.
“we who teach”
“we all (who teach) stumble in many ways”
It is unclear whether he intended all who teach or all inclusively. Either interpretation reflects a known Biblical principle. Paul made it clear that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Experience certainly reinforces the imperfection of all people.
The insight here is that…We all stumble in many ways.
“All” = each and every one, together, each and every part. i.e. everybody stumbles.
The term “stumble” is not difficult to understand. He previously used the term in the previous chapter regarding failing/stumbling in any part of the law makes us culpable for the whole. It means to trip, fall, offend, fail, sin.
The word for “knowing” indicates an intuitive knowledge of something. Intuitively and experientially we all know that everybody stumbles. There is no question that everybody stumbles and the variety of ways we can and do mess up are plentiful.
The stumbling is not limited to our words but include actions and attitudes. Somehow, we harbor high expectations of people. We act surprised when they do stumble. We should expect everyone to stumble and be surprised when they don’t.
This is true across the board. Church life, married life, family life, public life.
We ALL stumble in MANY ways.
3. Insight #3 – Controlled tongue, controlled life
James further postulates that if you find someone who never stumbles in their words, you have found a perfect person.
And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.
Only Jesus accomplished this control of His words because He had a perfect heart.
When Jesus left there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile and to question Him closely on many subjects, plotting against Him to catch Him in something He might say. Luke 11:53-54
What comes out of our mouth reflects the condition of the heart. What simmers in the heart steams out of the mouth. One who masters their talk manages their walk.