Summary: The tongue is a powerful tool. However, as someone once said, "When it is good there is nothing better but when it is bad there is nothing worse." It's that last part that moves us to understand the importance of taming the tongue.
INTRODUCTION: In northern New Mexico, at around 5 AM on July 16, 1945, the still dark early morning sky became as bright as the noonday sun. In that one blinding flash, the Atomic Age had begun. The atomic fireball shot upwards at 360 feet per second. The characteristic mushroom cloud formed at 30,000 feet. All that remained on the ground at the blast site were chunks of green radioactive glass that had been created by the incredible heat of the explosion. What unbelievably destructive power as was later found out when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. On December 20, 1951, something else spectacular happened. In Arco, Idaho, the still dark sky was brightened with light as well. Yet this time it was brightened by light bulbs powered by the first electricity produced from nuclear energy. Today, 1/5 of America’s electricity comes from nuclear energy. Electricity that powers homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and churches. The uranium that is used in the nuclear reactor that produces that electricity is the same uranium that is used in the atomic bomb. So what’s the difference? It’s how they’re used. When used one way, atomic energy produces tremendous good. But when used another way, it produces the most terrible destruction imaginable. In our passage this morning, James talks about another extremely powerful object—the tongue. Like atomic energy, the tongue is capable of accomplishing great things. But it is also capable of accomplishing destruction. Therefore, it’s important for us to be tongue tamers.
Teachers (Vs. 3:1). One of the reasons James starts out talking about teachers and then goes into talking about taming the tongue is because that is important for any instructor. We are influencing people by our words/teachings. The title of teacher carries with it much responsibility because its main instrument is the tongue and the tongue is a monumentally important tool. However, taming the tongue is important for the rest of us too because on some level we are all teachers. We are all trying to impart our input on others, whether it be as a parent, friend, boss or co-worker. We all may not have the label of ‘teacher’ but we do carry the responsibility of teaching and therefore, carry the necessity of choosing our words carefully, knowing the weight they can carry. We are all influential to someone by what we say. People are listening to what we say. And we have to ask ourselves, as direct or indirect teachers, “do I want people repeating what they hear me say?” A little boy was leaving church one Sunday morning when he slipped a dollar bill into the pastor’s hand. The pastor looked at him confused and asked him, “What’s that for?” The little boy looked up at him and said, “Cuz I felt sorry for you and want to help you out.” That confused him even more, so he asked, “Why do you feel you need to help me out?” Then the boy said, “Cuz my daddy says you’re the poorest preacher he’s ever heard.” We need to choose our words carefully because of impressionable ears.