Summary: James talks about the many reasons we should control our speech.


James 3:1-12

1. Illus. of Mom and cell phone

• On way to Gatlinburg decided to make a call to her new daughter-in-law.

• Got the answering machine, so she left a short message.

• After she hung up the cell phone, she started giving daughter-in-law “down the country” to my Dad.

• Got a rather short phone call from my brother later on that day. Seems that my technology impaired mom hadn’t hung up cell phone. Instead, everything she said was transmitted over the phone, where the answering machine recorded not only her short message, but EVERYTHING she said after that.

2. Ouch! Let me ask you something: what if every person you knew heard every word you said about them? Would you have any friends left? Would you have a job tomorrow morning? Would you be welcome in this church? No wonder our heavenly Father says dozens of times in the Bible, “Children, manage your mouths!”

3. I started to call this sermon, “How to tame your tongue.” The truth of the matter is that it is impossible to tame our tongue. See vs 7-8. While we will never tame it, it is possible to learn to control it.

4. Text: James gives his 1st century readers some important reasons why they needed to manage their mouths.

5. Today: These reasons are no less true today than they were 2000 years ago, and so we too must work at managing our mouths.

6. Interrogative: If the tongue is so hard to control, why should we try to do it? Three reasons.


1. See vs 3-4. James gives us two illustrations of the tongue’s power to change the course of our lives. A bit is a very small thing, yet it can determine the direction of a large horse weighing hundreds of pounds. A rudder is a small piece of wood, but it can determine the direction of a large ship weighting several tons.

2. The tongue may be one of the smallest muscles in your body, but it carries the power to change your life! This power may be positive, or it may be negative.

3. Principle: Our tongues have the power to determine the course of our lives!

4. Illus. of steering wheel

• In your car you have a steering wheel. It is much smaller than the engine, the transmission, or even a tire. Yet that steering wheel will determine the direction your car takes.

• That steering wheel can carry you to the hospital, or it can carry you over a cliff!

• James says that the tongue is the steering wheel of your life! If you manage your mouth, it will steer your life in a positive direction. If you don’t manage your mouth, it will steer it in a negative direction.

5. Argument: Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” When you speak grace and blessing about yourself and others, your tongue steers you toward life. When you speak criticism and bitterness toward yourself and others, your tongue steers you toward death.

6. Let me ask you something: which direction is your tongue steering you?

7. Manage your mouth because it will determine your life’s direction.


1. See

Vs 5-6a. Out tongue is like a tiny spark that can start a huge forest fire.

Vs 7-8. Our tongue is like a wild snake whose venom is extremely lethal.

2. What is James’ point? Just like a tiny spark of fire or a few drops of poison can cause a large amount of damage and destruction, so is the tongue. Just a few words can rip and shred and destroy the lives of those around us!

3. Principle: You need to manage your mouth because it can destroy the lives of those around us!

4. Illus. of Big Wills Valley

• It had been one of those hot, dry summers.

• We were in church one Sunday morning when a man came in and whispered something in another’s man’s ear.

• He jumped up and said something, and immediately he and a dozen other men began to jump up and run out of church.

• There was a wildfire sweeping through the valley. Before it was brought under control, smoke and ashes hung in the air so thickly you couldn’t see or breathe.

• It was finally determined that the fire was started by a spark from a carelessly flung cigarette.

• No wonder James uses that picture to describe the destructive power of our words! A handful of words are carelessly flung from our mouths. They take on a life of their own, spreading like wildfire, and before it’s over the lives of many have been destroyed!

Copy Sermon to Clipboard with PRO Download Sermon with PRO
Talk about it...

Nobody has commented yet. Be the first!

Join the discussion