Summary: The tongue- 1)The master key 2)A fire 3)A beast 4)A spring

Taming the tongue. Jas 3:1-12. WBC 26/10/03 pm


The boneless tongue, so small and weak,

Can crush and kill. Declared the Greek.

The tongue destroys a greater hoard,

The Turk asserts, than does the sword.

A Persian proverb wisely saith,

A lengthy tongue-an early death;

Or sometimes takes this form instead,

Don’t let your tongue cut off your head.

The tongue can speak a word of speed,

The Chinese say, outstrips the steed;

While Arab sages this impart,

The tongue’s great storehouse is the heart.

From Hebrew wit this maxim sprung,

Though feet should slip, never let the tongue.

The sacred writer crowns the whole,

Who keeps his tongue doth keep his soul.

C.H Spurgeon

James is just SO practical. He wants his readers to be mature, complete, not lacking anything (1:4)

- wants them to be consistent

o this morning: consistency in faith & deeds (2;14f)

o tonight- with the tongue, and it’s use

That’s probably why he starts of with teachers and preachers

- greatest potential for inconsistency there!

o We say more than most!

 Have to work at living it just like everybody else

 Must be careful for For Mt 12:37 by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

So- listen: be humble and gracious. We all stumble in many ways

- be gracious to yourself and others.

- Illustr: I’m pretty strict on proof=reading and wastage. Made the biggest boo-boo this week. £100 of printing!

And then he goes on to show us the main way in which we stumble

- in fact- if you can be pure on this one, you’re as good as perfect

o it’s the biggest… most resilient fault of all of us

In fact- Jesus saw it as such.

- He was actually very gracious on ‘warm sins’ (without condoning) but came down like a ton of bricks on

o Two-facedness. Judgement. Pharisaical criticism

THE TONGUE- the master-key

In fact- the bible paints a picture of the power of the tongue

- it’s like the indicator, measuring stick, of man’s spiritual state

- the first sin after the fall was one of the tongue;

o gen 3;12 ‘She made me do it’

- things degenerate… sins spreads… to a point where God has to confuse the language of the people. Babel. Gen 11:9

- God’s judgement on the Jews of the 8C BC was to cart them off to Babylon (Babel) to where (Is 28)

"Through men of strange tongues

and through the lips of foreigners

I will speak to this people,

but even then they will not listen to me," says the Lord.

-the words//tongue they hear is an indicator of the state of their souls

- but the first act of the new creation… seen at Pentecost… is the redemption of the tongue. The new creation is revealed- and the first way in which it is shown is the tongue. Languages that unite not divide. Babel is reversed


- the tongue conveys the state of man’s soul. Daily and in the Bible

- It’s true - Mt 12:34 For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35

Illustr: me mending 50 year old radio with Humphrey, 1 month ago. If he dropped the screw once- he dropped it 15 times! Finally- ‘oh dear!’

- ‘don’t you ever feel like saying something stronger?’ Oh no- it’s not what goes into a person that makes him unclean- but what come out. It’s the overflow of the heart

You could have knocked me over with a feather! God spoke to me! ‘he’s right’

Of course- this is a common experience. When you are in the presence of God you want to put your hands over your mouth

- Is 6, Isaiah- ISA 6:4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ISA 6:5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

- Peter Lk 5:8 after the great catch of fish- ‘depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ (fishermen and their language!)

But note how the Lord encourages

- Peter Lk 5:10 ‘do not be a afraid. I’m going to use you to catch men!’

- Isaiah ISA 6:6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

There’s the grace James talks about!

Don’t look now, Lord!

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