Summary: James teaches that when the tongue gets out of control it can do as much damage as a fire when it gets out of control.
1. Open your bibles to James 3:5-8.
2. James has had much to say about the tongue.
3. In comparison to the other members of our body the tongue is small. It is not near as large as our legs, our feet, our arms, our hands, our head and etc.
4. It is not near as large as these members of our body, but James warns us about an uncontrolled tongue doing tremendous damage.
5. James also emphasizes that the tongue is extremely difficult to tame.
6. In this lesson we will discuss the destructive and uncontrollable nature of the tongue.
I. FIRST, JAMES 3:5a TEACHES THAT THE TONGUE, EVEN THOUGH IT IS LITTLE, IS DESTRUCTIVE WHEN IT IS USED FOR BOASTING.
1. Let’s read James 3:5a, “5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things”. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.”
2. By “boasting” James refers to blowing a lot of things out of proportion. Exaggerating!
(1) An individual may blow things way out of proportion and cause others to think that they are rich, well educated, extremely qualified for a certain job, very religious; when in reality they do not near measure up to their bragging.
(2) This destructive misuse of the tongue is also, often found when gossiping is taking place.
(3) Something is being told about another person and the facts get blown all out of proportion and the reputation of an individual becomes ruined. Such is destructive.
3. Some years ago, Morgan Blake, a sportswriter for the Atlanta Journal, wrote the following satire:
I am more deadly than the screaming shell from the [short barreled pistol] howitzer. I win without killing. I tear down homes, break hearts, and wreck lives. I travel on the wings of the wind. No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me, no purity pure enough to keep me from saying the worst. I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice, no mercy for the defenseless. My victims are as numerous as the sands of the sea, and often as innocent. I never forget and seldom forgive. My name is Gossip. (Cited in George Sweeting, Faith That Works [Chicago: Moody, 1983], 76–77)
4. Turn to Psalm 57:4. This verse emphasizes how destructive an uncontrolled tongue can be.
In Psalm 57:4, David lamented, “My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword”.
Turn to Psalm 52:2-4. Here, David speaks of evil and boasting men. Let’s read Psalm 52:2-4, “Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, O worker of deceit. You love evil more than good, falsehood more than speaking what is right. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue”.
In Job 19:2, Job asked Bildad, his so-called comforter, “How long will you torment me and crush me with words?”