Summary: To encourage believer to use their words to build up others and to be a positive witness with our words

Taming the Tongue

James 3:3-12

Purpose Statement: To encourage believers to use their words to build up others and to be a positive witness with our words

Our Scripture today is basically about gossip and the damage that it does. There is an old saying that says “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Well, we know that nothing could be further from the truth. I think gossip may be one of the biggest enemies ofthe church today.

I told you last week that the college I went to was known as a suitcase college. In other words, most people went home on the weekend. Houston is very close to Sam Houston State University and most students were from the Houston area. One weekend I went home and my two suitemates went home. When I returned, I noticed a foul odor coming from the suitemates room. My roommate, who didn’t go home had to put up with that odor all weekend. He had taken a poster and made a sign with it saying all kinds of mean things about our suitemates. I removed the poster and told Kevin that he shouldn’t talk like that because he professed to be a Christian. He replied that there were times when using foul language was okay. I told him that it wasn’t okay and that what it really demonstrated was a poor witness and a weak vocabulary. People are watching the way that we response to problems and they are watching us to see if our witness is real.

This Scripture talks to us today about the danger of gossip and negative speech. (Read Scripture)

In our Scripture today, the tongue is compared to a rudder or forest fire. It is a very small organ, but has the potential to do so much damage or good. Scripture calls it a world of evil. When I gossip against people, particularly my Christian brothers and sisters, what does it say about how much I care about them? You don’t want people to gossip about you. What does it say to an unbeliever about what you believe in?

1. Controlling the tongue will not happen by accident. It must be intentional. I need to consider the feelings of others and place others first in all that I do and say. Once that word or gossip is out there, it is impossible to take back.

In a discipleship training series called “The Agape Road”, author and speaker Bob Mumford talks about what he calls “The White Knuckle Club”. In other words, sometimes God will bring some area of our lives to our attention and we will realize that we need to change. So, we’ll go to God and promise to do better and we’ll try harder. But, what God wants for us to do is to bring that area of our lives to Him and allow Him to change us from the inside out. When I just “try harder”, ultimately I fail and get discouraged. But, when I give it to God. Ultimately, I’m asking God to transform my heart. It is possible to control my tongue. If it wasn’t possible it would have been cruel and unusual for God to ask me to do something I can’t do. But, what I do is rely on Him and His Spirit to change me.

There was a lady in the nursing home where I served as a chaplain, there was our corporate nurse. She had a way of being sometimes rude and very harsh with her words. When I asked her about it she would say, “That’s just the way I am. I cannot change.” Let me tell you something, that’s a lie straight from the pit of hell. What your actually saying is that there is a sin that is greater than God’s grace. Your saying there is something that is greater than God’s power to change you. The devil tries to tell us we cannot change. But, that’s not true. God’s grace is sufficient to change you and to help you to be obedient to His Word.

A man in a small village had been found guilty of starting a malicious rumor about another man. This rumor was not only untrue, but had seriously damaged the other man’s reputation and family. As is often the custom in small villages, the accused was taken before the chief of the village who served as a judge and would hear the case and decide the man’s punishment if found guilty

After hearing the facts of the case, the chief found the accused to be guilty and was preparing to sentence the man to his punishment. The old, wise chief handed the man a large bag of feathers and told him that his only punishment would be to place a feather on the doorstep of every person to whom he had told the rumor. The man was relieved at such a light punishment and quickly took the bag of feathers and set about his task. Four hours later, the man returned to the king with the empty bag and said, “I completed your task sir. Is there anything else?”

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