Summary: Our tongue is a result of what is really in our heart.
The Real You
Bruce Barton: "For good or ill, your conversation is your advertisement. Every time you open your mouth you let men look into your mind."
Someone has said “that great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.” The church that James is writing to was full of small-minded people who gossiped about each other and tore one another apart with their tongues. I wonder if churches today are a bit like that church. In writing to the church, 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." Remember a few weeks ago we saw James say this in James 1:26, “if anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
Jesus said in Luke 6:45, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (NIV)
Tongue control really is a choice we make. It takes spiritual discipline and Spiritual maturity to use our tongue for the good of others. It also is a heart issue. What comes out of our mouths really says more about what is really in our hearts.
Controlling the tongue is one of life's greatest challenges. Someone has observed, "The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail more than his tongue."
Let’s understand words are power. The Bible says this in Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
(NIV) We either build up with our words or destroy with our words. They bring life to another or kill another’s spirit. And which ever one we love to do that is the fruit produce. Good fruit that makes a positive difference in the world, or evil fruit that ruins lives and destroys the testimony of the church.
Do you remember the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me?” I don’t know who came up with that but it’s just not true because words can break our hearts. Broken bones can heal with time, but a broken spirit caused by words of death, is not quickly repaired.
Since such harm can happen from words we chose why choose to harm? That is why James says the tongue reveals that people choose to be how they are. The tongue reveals The Real You.
I. The Mark of Maturity (v.1-5) In his commentary Frank Gaebelein wrote: Tongue control? It will never be achieved unless there is first of all heart and mind control…. When any Christian comes to the point of yielding to the Lord-in full sincerity, cost what it may—control of his thought life, the problem of managing his tongue will be solved, provided that such surrender goes deeper than the intellect and reaches the emotions and the will. [Frank E. Gaebelein, The Practical Epistle of James, Tests of a Living Faith. (Great Neck, NY: Channel Press, 1955), 80f].
This Mark of Maturity and surrender means that we understand Ephesians 4:29“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)
We are not going to spend a great deal of time with v.1 and 2 because we will come back to those verses in a couple of weeks. However, the call is obvious. Unless a person has control of their tongue they should not be a teacher or in positions of leadership within the church. A mature Christian has learned to control their tongue.
Notice the two ways of control:
A. The Obedient Tongue (v.3) this requires obedience to the Word of God. In Romans 14:19 and 1 Thessalonians 5:11 we are commanded to edify or encourage one another. In his book, Encouragement The Key To Caring, Larry Crabb tells us this: “An encourager must know the power of his words and use that force to build up his Christian brothers and sisters. He must use his words carefully. From the book of Proverbs emerge three principles that should guide him as he speaks.”
1. Be Slow to speak
2. Be sensitive in your Speech
3. Be Gentle in your Speech (pg.114)
Dr. David Jeremiah said this, “God designed the church to be the place where people can be accepted for who they really are and be encouraged to become the people they were meant to be.” The Power of Encouragement, (pg.171)