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Summary: To become mature follower of Jesus we need to learn to watch what we say.

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TAMING THE TONGUE

Text: James 3:1-12

Introduction

1. Piccard and Richard Conniff writes in National Geographic that on January 12, 1997, two Swiss men, Bertrand Piccard and Wim Verstraeten, set out to be the first to CIRCLE THE EARTH in a balloon. Their aircraft was called the Breitling Orbiter, and it was high-tech masterpiece, complete with solar power panels and an airtight capsule for pressurized flight at high altitudes that would enable them to fly the jet stream at two hundred miles and hour. Price tag: $1.5 million.

Shortly after liftoff, however, calamity struck. With the cabin sealed tight and pressurized, the pilots suddenly noticed strong kerosene fumes.

Soon they e-mailed their control center: "Kerosene’s coming through each pipe on both inside tanks and we cannot tighten them any more. It is a nightmare....Answer quick."

They were advised to lower their altitude, open the capsule, and hold on until they could reach the coast of Algeria. The fumes proved overwhelming, however, and they were forced to ditch in the Mediterranean and lost the craft.

The cause of the kerosene leak? A clamp, like those used on an automobile radiator hose, had failed. Price tag: $1.16.

It doesn’t take much to undermine a great enterprise.

God intends that the Christian life be a triumphant journey, but often we allow small things like our tongue to scuttle God’s grand plan for us.

2. "We have two ears and one mouth that we may listen the more and talk the less." - Greek Proverb. However, all too often we talk more than we listen.

3. James tells us that taming the tongue is...

A. Important For Leaders

B. Small But Powerful

C. Can Contradict Itself

4. Let's all stand together as we read James 3:1-12

Proposition: To become mature follower of Jesus we need to learn to watch what we say.

Transition: James tells us that taming the tongue is...

I. Important For Leaders (1-2).

A. Not Many Should Become Teachers

1. James begins his teaching on taming the tongue by saying we shouldn't rush to become a teacher in the church.

A. Leadership in the church, while it looks cool, brings with it great responsibility, and at times, great heartache.

B. When I first felt God calling me into ministry some accused me of doing it because I wanted attention. Well 20 years later, I can honestly tell you I have received some attention I could have done without!

2. Look at what James warns in v. 1, "Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly."

A. James taught that people should not rush to become teachers in the church.

B. Many of his status-conscious readers would have desired the reputable position of teachers in the community.

C. Coming hard on the heels of chapter 2, one of the most honorable “works” that would immediately come to the Jewish mind would be the position of teaching.

D. James has in mind a greater emphasis on spiritual growth and self-control before someone assumed the role of a teacher.

E. Teachers will be judged by God with greater strictness. Teaching authority carries with it greater responsibility.

F. As works reveal the depths of a person’s faith, so words show the depth of a person’s maturity.

G. The teacher is held to greater accountability because of his or her key teaching role (Barton, 1082).

3. Now you might be asking yourselves, "okay, so what does this have to do with taming the tongue?" Well James uses this admonition as a lead in to his conversation about taming the tongue by saying, "Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way."

A. We all make many mistakes or slip up when we are off guard.

B. We all stumble, but our most frequent failures occur when we are speaking. Because we are prone to make mistakes in our speech, we need to be even more careful to let God control what we say.

C. He is capable of guiding our motivation, our thoughts, our very choice of words, and even the impact our communication has on others.

D. Many people may think that it is impossible to control their tongues, but most people haven’t even begun to try.

E. The ability to control the tongue is the mark of true maturity for the Christian. When Jesus confronted the religious leaders about their accusations against him, he said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks—showing that what is inside of a person affects what they do with their speech (Matthew 12:33-37).

F. He also said that we must give account for every careless word we utter (Matthew 12:36).

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