Summary: You show if your faith is real by your words as well as your works.

The Terrible Terror of the Untamed Tongue

James 3

This passage is a test to see if you are allowing God to perfect you and if you are heeding God’s Word.

Our Speech shows our Faith. Paraphrase: “I’ll show you my faith by my words. Our Speech betrays our intelligence. “Foot in mouth”

Dear Readers: And you thought there was nothing funny about the law. David Broome of Phoenix sent these questions (taken from official court records) lawyers have put to people on the stand:

Q: Was that the same nose you broke as a child?

Q: Now, doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, in most cases he just passes quietly away and doesn’t know anything about it until the next morning?

Q: Was it you or your brother that was killed in the war?

Q: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?

Q: Were you alone or by yourself?

Q: How long have you been a French Canadian?

Q: Do you have any children or anything of that kind?

Q: I show you Exhibit 3 and ask you if you recognize that picture.

A: That’s me.

Q: Were you present when that picture was taken?

—Columbus Dispatch, 11-1-96, p. 2E

James 3:1, 2. The failure to bridle the tongue, mentioned earlier (1:26), is now expanded.

Goal of James? 1:4, Perfection

How do you know when God is done? James 3:2

Evidence of perfection — the mouth! I Peter 2:21, 22, “neither was guile found in his mouth.”

Matthew 12:34, 35, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.”

I. Controlled Tongues

II. Cultivated Thoughts

The mouth is connected to the mind

Winsome speech demands a wise source

Talks about the source of speech, vs. 11

“Out of the abundance of the heart a man speaketh,” vs. 13, 14

I. Controlled Tongues

A. The tongue is powerful, vs. 1-5

vs. 1 “my brethren,” sign a new topic is being considered

many Jewish Christians aspired to teach, (“Masters” - didoskoloi), and thereby carry some of the rank and admiration given to Rabbis. James complaint was simply that too many believers were overly anxious to speak up and show off.

Those who teach must understand their responsibility, as those who reach will be judged more strictly. Their Condemnation is greater because having professed to have a clear knowledge of duty, he is all the more bound to obey it.

3:2 James did not point a finger at the offenders without including himself, “We all stumble in many ways.” Nothing seems to trip a believer more than a dangling tongue

Spiritual maturity requires a tamed tongue

3:3-5. The Tongue is small but it is influential.

James uses three analogies to show the power of the tongue to control.

▸ The bit and the horse

▸ the rudder and the ship

▸ and the spark and the fire.

The illustration of the horse is appropriate, because the bit lies on the top of a horse’s tongue, and when attached to the bridle and reins, it is possible for the rider using that bit to easily make the horse obey. Controlling horses’ mouths controls their heads, which, in turn, direct their entire body as well. Even gentle horses, which have been ridden for many years, are not controllable without bits in their mouths.

Petite but powerful

James’s point about ships is that, compared to its overall size, a ship’s rudder is very small, yet can easily steer the vessel wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.

Largest Aircraft Carriers

The warships with the largest full-load displacement in the world are the US Navy aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and Dwight D. Eisenhower at 91,400 tons. They are 1,092 feet in length overall and have a speed well in excess of 30 knots with their nuclear-powered 280,000 shaft hp reactors. They have to be refueled after about 900,000 miles steaming. Their complement is 6,100. The total cost of the Eisenhower commissioned on October 18, 1977 exceeded $2 billion excluding the more than 90 plus aircraft carried. The USS Enterprise is, however, 1,102 feet long and thus still the longest warship ever built.

“Turned about with a very small helm,” Single individual at the helm.

James gives no specifics in saying that the tongue . . . boasts of great things. But he obviously has in mind man’s natural inclination to boast, to be self-centered, and—contrary to the claims of much popular psychology—to have a high self-image. Whenever and however the tongue boasts, it leaves a wake of destruction. It tears down others, it destroys churches, families, marriages, and personal relationships.

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