Summary: Wild beasts can be tamed, but not the human tongue. That is, it cannot be tamed except the Spirit of God do it. The Lord has used this sermon to help our people to season their speech with grace. My outline, developed years ago, is the same as an outline

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T-H-I-N-K Before You Speak

Calvary Baptist Church


Matthew 16:23; James 3:1-12 et. al.


In Matthew 16:23, Peter stands in front of Jesus. Peter, as always, had something to say. Jesus then said, “Get behind me, Satan.” Satan wasn’t standing there, at least not in the flesh. Peter was. But Peter had just used his mouth to say what the Devil wanted said. Believers can do that too!

Psalm 52:2 Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.

Psalm 140:3 They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under their lips. Selah.


James 3:1–12

NOTE: I may preach this passage by itself soon. Go lightly. See Brian Bill, “Taming the Tongue” for a wonderful presentation of the imagery in James 3. (6 images) Sermon central.

1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. 2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.


3 Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

• The bit, controlled by a strong hand, puts in check the wild nature of the horse.

ILLUS: My experience of riding at the Awanita Ranch in Traveler’s Rest. I let the horse stop and get a mouth full of grass. I don’t know how that affected the bit, but it sure did. Through the woods I went, dodging limbs left and right.


4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.

• The rudder keeps the ship on course against the wind and waves that would send it in dangerous directions.


5b Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

Illus: The fire near the home where I grew up. I tried to burn out some brush. It got out of control in a heartbeat. I called my brother to help. We had to give up and call the fire department.

ILLUS: After Karen Carpenter died of heart failure at the age of 32 brought on by years of fighting an eating disorder, it came out that her fatal obsession with her weight was triggered by a single reviewer’s comment. When referring to Karen, this man called her “Richard’s chubby sister.” While I’m sure there were other factors attributing to Karen Carpenter’s struggles, this one comment unleashed a flurry of self-doubt, which led to her eventual disease and death. We really need to watch our words, don’t we? Brian Bill


7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

• It is fairly easy to tame most dogs.

• A little harder with cats.

• Lions? Well, yes it has been done.

• But the tongue no one can tame.

• So do we just let it go? No, we turn it over to God.


9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

• In parts of the world, natural springs produce either fresh water or salt water.

• They CANNOT produce both!

• Yet we go from amazing grace on our lips in the pew, the awful garbage in the parking lot!


12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

• What James is telling us is, don’t go around claiming to be a fig tree if you keep dropping persimmons to the ground!

QUOTE: The argument is clear. Just as little bits … turn grown horses, small rudders guide large ships, and a small spark consumes an entire forest, so the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. The tongue is petite but powerful! BKC

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