Summary: "For Dummies" books are a raging success! Why? Full of practical wisdom and simple "How To's" Wouldn't a "Christianity for Dummies," a book full of practical wisdom & simple How Tos on how to live out our faith, be great? James & this series is JUST THAT
Christianity For Dummies: The Untameable Beast
A. How many of you have ever had to call out animal control to your house or neighborhood? If you ever were to see a wild animal prowling your neighborhood, all you have to do is pick up the phone and call Tipton County animal control to round it up and haul it off. Discuss animals on Power Point. We can round up and haul off all these wild and roaming animals.
B. So why not a catcher and a pound for stray words? That's an occupation that could earn a decent living in ANY economy! Think about it - imagine a vicious, razor-toothed expletive cornered by a couple of word catchers: "Careful, Bob, careful now...that's a vicious one!" "Who would let such a thing loose, especially with small children around?" "Aw, some guy got worked up and unleashed it on his poor wife." "I'd hate to see what that gal looks and feels like now." "Like shredded wheat, probably." "Well, let's get this pit bull of a word off the street before it bites somebody else."
C. Now...let's make it personal! Pull out doggie cage and act this out. Walk out amongst congregation - youth, mid-age, older. Let's say you're home, resting and relaxing after an especially hard day at work and these same word catchers suddenly knock on your door. "Excuse me, _______," they ask, "does this word belong to you? We caught it running loose on Hwy 14; done chewed up a lot of folks. Your neigbor said it sounded like it was one of yours." You take a long hard look at their catch and, sure enough...you let that gossip out on Wednesday. Red-faced, you claim your nasty little word and send the word catchers away.
D. Of course, word catching is an imaginary profession. But I imagine if you could find a way to round up and return people's words in time to stop their damage, you would have quite a lucrative business in our culture of unrestrained tongues. I know I've let some words escape my mouth that I would have paid big bucks to take back...I'm sure you have as well.
E. Well, things haven't really changed much in 2000 years. In fact, the tongue was of such great concern to James that he not only mentioned it in every chapter of his letter but also here in Chapter 3 devotes 12 full verses to it. And so, we come to Chapter 6 in our study "Christianity for Dummies." In this chapter, James is going to warn us of the dangers of "The Untameable Beast." That wily critter that God in His infinite wisdom put in a cage, behind our teeth, walled in by our mouth. James gives us four compelling reasons to keep our tongues caged up and under control: Diffuse Problem, Disproportionate Power, Destructive Potential, and Deplorable Propensity.
II. Scripture Reading & Prayer
A. Read James 3:1-12.
B. Pray - Father, we ask your forgiveness for the many ways and countless times we have sinned against you and against others who are created in your image by unleashing the Untameable Beast, our tongues. We need your help in a mighty way to learn how to control our tongues - the Untameable Beasts that they all are! Teach us now to do so, in Jesus' mighty name!
III. The Untameable Beast: A Diffuse Problem (vv. 1-2)
A. Read and explain James 3:1.
- I think if we're honest, at first glance, we have NO clue why James throws verses 1 & 2 here where he does. They seem...out of place...LOST! Yet when we consider the context of the 1st century church, we see how these first two verses become a natural springboard for a discussion on the tongue.
- Not many OF YOU...#1 Discuss 1st century society - few could read, people in lower classes had few opportunities for advancement in status. #2 Discuss prestige and honor bestowed on teachers in the 1st century church. #3. Discuss worship service (dynamic & unstructured, men allowed opportunity to stand up and address the rest of the assembly). Read 1 Cor. 14:26, 40. So we see the tendency of a large section of the church to want to speak during worship & Christians attracted to teaching ministry, albeit for wrong reasons.
- James in response says, "Hey, cool your jets! Don't be in any rush to become a teacher." For you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness (cf. Hebrews 13:17, Luke 12:48). James is not intending to discourage true teachers, but to warn of the role's seriousness and entering it for frivolous or selfish reasons - particularly in light of what he points out next.
B. Read and explain James 3:2.