Summary: As believers we should learn to use our tongue for God's glory and not for the satisfaction of the flesh.
Intro: Words are extremely powerful and the instrument used to release them is powerful also, our tongue.
Are you using your words and tongue for God's glory or are you using them for your purpose?
In this message, let us see the tongue for what it is, a powerful instrument that should be used properly and how the tongue can be tamed and used to honor God.
1. See the Tongue's Tremendous Power (1-5).
A. A teacher or master should use caution, since each word spoken can shape a young life or destroy it. As James writes, to desire to be a teacher comes with great responsibility and the one desiring such an office should handle that position with extreme care knowing that an accounting will be required for what you have taught (1).
B. Although none of us can avoid offending others or even saying things that hurt the feelings of others, yet to avoid using our words as weapons requires a tongue that is tamed. We cannot tame the tongue, but God can (2).
C. James wants us all to understand just how powerful the tongue can be among the members of our bodies, so he gives us 3 illustrations:
First, a bit is small in comparison to the body size of a horse, but the rider can turn the horses body with just a small tug at the reigns (3).
Second, the rudder of a ship is small in comparison to the overall body length of a ship, but the captain can turn the ship from one direction to the other by turning the wheel, which moves the rudder (4).
Third, a match is a small thing, but when cast into dry branches it can cause a bonfire which can destroy acres of land (5).
2. See the Damage Caused by the Untamed Tongue (6-8).
A. Although the tongue is a small member of our body, yet it can mold our character into one that other's would desire to follow, or it can hurt our testimony and make us appear hypocritical to our Christian walk. James shares that the tongue can defile or discredit our entire body, it can even destroy the character that we have taken so long to build or our course of nature or lifestyle, and can even remand someone forever to hell as the person denies Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their life. Notice Jesus also defined for us what can bring defilement to a man. In Matthew 15:11, Jesus said it what not what went into a man's mouth, but what comes out. (6).
B. What evil can be wrought by an untamed tongue is in view by James in our text. Notice that James reminds us that all kinds of animals have been tamed by mankind, but the tongue, no man is naturally capable of taming it. The tongue is out of control or unruly, and since man can use his tongue to lie or deceive, it is actually full of deadly poison. Paul used this same understanding in Romans 3:13-14, when he says "Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." On account of man using his tongue in a way that God cannot condone, God declares the sinfulness of mankind in Romans 3:23, as Paul wrote, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." The untamed tongue, as you can see, can cause damage to your life, testimony and eternal destiny (7-8).
3. See the Joy Wrought through a God Tamed Tongue. (9-10).
A. Although we have seen the damage caused by an untamed tongue, yet now we find out that our tongue can be used constructively and not destructively. The same tongue that once was used for deceit, can be used to praise God. As James says, we can praise God and curse men, yet man being made after the image of God, should now be seen as a vessel well-deserving of encouragement. Therefore the tongue should be used to uplift, to edify others, rather than tearing them down or criticizing them (9).
B. To bring it all together, James concludes that out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing, but this is not what God intended. As the chapter continues, which is not part of our original text, James uses three more illustrations to make his point. First, a fountain either brings forth good or undrinkable water, not both (11). Second, fruit-bearing plants, such as a fig tree cannot bear both figs and berries or a berry vine bring forth figs and berries. Thirdly, a fountain cannot bring forth both fresh and salt water (12). If we want to be seen as a person of God, we must allow God to tame our tongue and use our words for His glory (10).