1. I have found our journey through the book of James to be a personal challenge. For the focus has been on Christian maturity. I have been challenged as to whether or not I am a mature Christian. My attitudes, my words, my actions and my lack of actions have been examined. And to be honest I fall short in many areas.
2. What about you? Can you go back over the first two chapters of James and say that you really don’t struggle with some of the requirements of being a maturity Christian? Do you doubt God when you ask Him for things? Are you quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry? Do you look after those who are widows or poor or in need? Are you polluted by the world in which we live? Do you show favouritism? Do you tell people how to deal with their problems or do you actually get involved in helping them?
3. We could easily get discouraged thinking about these things. We might even question if our faith is real. That is why the first part verse 2 of chapter 3 is very important. "We all stumble in many ways." We not only sin often but in many ways.
4. I see 3 important considerations in these words.
a. The first is for us not to get discouraged. Yes, we are to strive for spiritual maturity. But on this side of heaven we will fail. We will stumble. And it is easy for us to give up and say "What’s the use, if I really believed or was a good Christian, I wouldn’t in and stumble as much as I do." Or else we can simply accept our sins and say "well that’s part of being a Christian." Both views are wrong. We stumble but we are saved through our faith in Christ by the grace of God. And because we are saved, we hate our sin and we struggle to over come it. So we must be realistic, we will stumble but we must neither be overcome by or complacent to our sins. And as I have said before, hopefully we can see progress. And so hopefully James can help us be aware of our sins so we can take steps to overcome them, even though this is a life long process.
b. A second reason why these words are important is that in verse 1, James has just said that not many should presume or seek to become teachers. One should not teach unless God has called him or her to teach. They will be judged more strictly and since we all stumble, they will receive much judgement. And so it must be, since a teacher has much influence over others. We will not look more at this verse since we discussed it along with the call "to be slow to speak".
c. But the third reason the words we all "stumble" are important is that they prepare us for what James will teach us this evening. We all stumble in many ways and the evidence of this is found in the words that we speak. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
i. If you question the statement that we all stumble in many ways, just listen to your words, just record every word that you speak in the next week and bring that tape here next Sunday. We will listen together to your words and we will be able to hear many faults or sins in your words. No editing. I will not volunteer to do this because I would be ashamed of what you would hear.
ii. Also, the hardest sins to control are the sins of our tongue. If we could somehow control the tongue, then we would have victory over all of sin. And so the challenge to us and the way for to gain victories over sin, is through dealing with our tongues.
- and we see this as we look at why the tongue is so powerful and evil
- first James talks about the power of the tongue
- the tongue is small compared to the rest of the body
- just like a bit in a horse’s mouth or as ship’s rudder
- and yet each of these control or steer the animal or ship in the direction they will go
- Welland Canal - huge ships - just fit into the locks
- very precise work
- all controlled by relatively small rudder
- and what is amazing is, just a slight movement of rudder makes such a difference where ship ends up
- as we will see the words we speak reveal or reflect what is really within us