Summary: James considers the tongue significant because: 1. OUR TONGUES CAN DIRECT OUR LIVES (vs. 2-4) 2. OUR TONGUES CAN DESTROY OUR LIVES (vs.6) 3. OUR TONGUES CAN DISPLAY OUR LIVES (vs. 9-12)
“TAMING THE TONGUE”
“the rudder of our lives”
Fr. Christopher M. Nerreau
Illustration: Recently I made a trip to Wal-Mart, after having finished shopping and as I was walking to my car in a large parking lot I heard something that inspired this sermon. In the few moments it took me to get from the doors of the store to my car I overheard no less than 4 separate people gossiping. Three of them were on cell phones and the fourth speaking with someone face to face.
I was very impressed with the degree of effort they put into comforting their conscience while doing it…
o “I should not say this but I think you need to hear it.”
o “I normally do not talk like this but this is really important”
o “If they ever found out I said this I would feel terrible but…”
o “Promise you won’t say anything but…”
It was at that moment that I realized that human beings can break a better part of the Ten Commandments with nothing more than their tongues!
Proposition: James said - if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man [mature], able to bridle the whole body as well. (vs. 2)
Interrogative sentence: What does your tongue say about the condition of your heart?
Sermon Preview: James considers the tongue significant because:
1. OUR TONGUES CAN DIRECT OUR LIVES (vs. 2-4)
2. OUR TONGUES CAN DESTROY OUR LIVES (vs.6)
3. OUR TONGUES CAN DISPLAY OUR LIVES (vs. 9-12)
Transitional Sentence: Look with me as we see just how…
I. OUR TONGUE CAN DIRECT OUR LIVES (vs. 2-4)
Explanation: THE BIBLE SAYS: James 3:2-4 “Now if we put the bits into the horses mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ship also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder.”
James was a living witness to the power of Christ’s tongue. With it Christ calmed the storm, healed the sick and raised the dead! At first glance the tongue may seem insignificant but James gives us two vivid illustrations to help us realize this is not so:
The Bit Of A Horse (vs. 2-3) First he describes the tongue as a bit that controls the horse.
• Understand in biblical times the horse was a very large animal. It was also a slave, and required to work as the master directed. To control this large animal a bit was placed into its mouth, attached to it was reigns which are pulled this way and that.
• James paints the image of - God’s highest creation as slaves, slaves to the tiny bits in our mouths, the tongue, which pull us this way and that.
The Rudder of A Boat (vs. 4) Secondly, James pictures a very large sail boat
• This sail boat is strong enough to pull entire crews and bear the weight of strong winds and destructive seas. Yet it is a slave to a very small piece of lumber underneath the sea.
• Again this image describes the human condition. We are created as magnificent beings and yet controlled by such a small thing as the tongue.
Illustration: To demonstrate the power of the tongue in directing our lives I only need remind you of the sacrament of marriage. Two small words (I Do) rolling off the tongue change the direction of our lives forever!
Application: The tongue works like the bit of a horse or rudder of a boat. Connected directly to our hearts, the words it speaks are irrevocable and change the direction of our lives forever. Do not misjudge the power of the tongue by its size! Though the tongue is small and hidden in the mouth, its power is strong enough to direct our entire lives. Where is your tongue leading you?
II. OUT TONGUES CAN DESTROY OUR LIVES (vs.5- 6)
Explanation: THE BIBLE SAYS: (v.5-6) - “see how great a forest is set aflame but such a small fire. The tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defile the entire body, and set on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.”
• James gives another image to describe the tongues power to destroy. In the time of Jesus people used to bring their trash and dead live stock, even human corpses to be burnt by a constant fire known as Gehennah.
The Tongue As Fire In This World (5-6) James uses this idea of fire to describe the tongue.
• The fire can start out small but slowly grows to consume a great forest.
• James describes the tongue in the same way – Although small it is deadly!