Thesis: A focal point of discipleship is controlling the tongue.
1. Illust. General Robt. E. Lee was once asked what he thought of a fellow officer in the Confederate Army--an officer who had made some mean-spirited remarks about him. Lee thought for a moment, then rated him as being very satisfactory. The person who asked the question seemed troubled. "But general, I guess you don't know what he's been saying about you." "Oh yes," answered Lee. "I know. But I was asked my opinion of him, not his opinion of me."
2. Controlling the tongue is one of life's greatest challenges.
a. Someone has observed, "The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail more than his tongue."
b. Illust. Sometimes I have a hard time controlling my tongue. Not when I get angry, but in the light, flippant things I hear/say and sometimes repeat. One of you recently reminded me of something I had passed on in a jesting way, but had gotten back to you and made you upset. I was reminded that I need to hear this lesson. Perhaps you
c. The point of this lesson is simple:
1) Control of the tongue is an important focus of discipleship.
2) Often focus on church attendance, reading Bible, prayer ... this too!
3. We'll be taking our thoughts from the book of James.
a. James has more to say about the tongue than any other book of the Bible; not a coincidence as James is about "practical Christian living."
b. Read James 3:1-12 (in "The Message" by Eugene Peterson).
I. THREE TRAITS OF THE TONGUE.
A. The Tongue is Very Small but Very Powerful!
1. < Illust. >
a. In comparison to an Arabian stallion a bit is quite small.
b. In comparison to an aircraft carrier a rudder is quite small!
c. Illust. Words are like dynamite--if used properly and in the right place they are beneficial. Used improperly and in the wrong place they produce a lot of damage!
2. If a person can control their tongue they can master their life! (3:2)
B. The Tongue is Very Small but Very Dangerous!
1. < Illust.--forest fire >
a. Illust. The great Chicago fire was allegedly started by a single cow-- Mrs. O'Leary's, who kicked over a lantern in its stall. From that one lantern the entire city burned down!
b. Illust. Once when I lived in Ohio I was driving down a long, straight road in flat country. Saw smoke from a distance. Got closer and saw it was someone's yard on fire! Elderly woman out standing in backyard beating ground with her broom. Helped her put it out. Started with a spark that fell out of a burn barrel!
2. The tongue is like a forest fire in that it is almost impossible to control.
a. Illust. Norman Rockwell painting of people gossiping.
b. Illust. The story is told about a young man who found out that something he was saying about someone else was totally false. By spreading the information he had caused a lot of damage. He went to his grandfather and asked how he could make things right. Grandfather took a pillow to the front porch, cut it open, and began spreading the feathers. "All you have to do is pick up the feathers."
C. The Tongue Very Small but Very Revealing. (read verse 9)
1. How and what we talk about--the "spin" we put on life by our words reveals our hearts in a way nothing else does!
2. Read Matt. 12:33-35.
3. Illust. Bruce Barton: "For good or ill, your conversation is your advertisement. Everytime you open your mouth you let men look into your mind."
II. TAMING OUR TONGUES. (Practical guidelines from James)
A. BE QUICK TO LISTEN, SLOW TO SPEAK (1:19).
1. "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt" (Abraham Lincoln).
2. "I have never been hurt by anything I did not say" (Calvin Coolidge).
3. "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise" (Prov. 10:19).
B. KEEP A TIGHT REIN ON YOUR TONGUE (1:26).
1. The tongue must be bridled constantly!
2. "He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity" (Prov. 21:23).
C. REFUSE TO TEAR OTHER PEOPLE DOWN (4:11; 5:9).
D. SPEAK ONLY WHAT IS TRUE (5:12).
E. PRAY FOR GOD'S HELP IN TAMING THE TONGUE (3:8).
1. "No man can tame the tongue!"
2. We need God's help!
< Invitation >