Summary: God has given us a wonderful gift of a tongue. Unfortunately without God’s influence it is used for evil...this sermon explores how God influences our tongue to be used for good.

Many years ago in a Scottish village a man shared stories that he had heard about another man.

He didn’t care to check that what passed his lips were true.

When the story got around the village, it utterly destroyed the other man.

His family, his job and his integrity were all devastated by the rumour mill.

He finally had to leave town -- a ruined and defeated man.

As you might have guessed,

the fellow who passed the story along discovered that part of what he had been saying was false and another part although true was taken out of context.

He had not checked it out, but simply took an educated guess that it was mostlikely true, and now it had turned out not to be.

He had helped to destroy an innocent man with his tongue.

So he went to his pastor (whom they called "Dominie")

and said, "Dominie, I have destroyed a man with my words"

and he told his pastor the whole story.

"Please Dominie," he said, "I am sorry -- can I be forgiven this sin?"

The pastor told the man that this was not so simple

and told him to take a bag of feathers and place one in the front yard of every house in the village.

Although the fellow thought this to be a strange request for a pastor to make, he really wanted forgiveness,

so he followed the instructions to the letter.

At last he came back to the pastor and said, "Dominie, I have done all that you asked, may I now be forgiven?"

"Not yet, my son," the pastor replied,

"You must first retrace your steps and bring back to me every feather you placed in the village!"

"But, Dominie -- I could never do that, the wind has carried the feathers away!"

"Yes," the pastor said,

"And in like manner have your careless words unfairly destroyed someone and his family!"

Then the priest said: "Because of Jesus your sins are forgiven,

now rely on the Holy Spirit to be careful with your tongue."

Someone once said it is very difficult to take back what you have said, so be careful what you say and how you say it.

How careful are you with your tongue?

Our lesson that God gives us from the book of James reveals that our tongues can be used for good or bad.

Listen again to verse 9

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.

Our tongues can be wonderful instruments or deadly weapons.

If you have been on the end of praise and thanks

you know how good it can be

And if you have ever been the subject of idle gossip and talking behind your back you know how deadly the tongue can be.

I find it intriguing that God sees the sins of the tongue in the same light as he sees murder, stealing and adultery.

It is a top priority in God’s commandments.

The eighth commandment, you shall not bear false witness is concerned with how we use our tongues.

Early this year we dealt with this matter in relation to handling complaints in a healthy way.

Fortunately many people have taken these studies and teachings from God on board.

If you would like a copy of handling complaints in a healthy way there are a copies up near the previous sermons.

Unfortunately there are still individuals among us who are not being careful with what they say,

when they say things

and how they say things.

Remember it is important that if you have concerns or queries that you don’t stir each other up with negative talk

you don’t wait for a meeting to bring up an issue

or even worse bring matters up with others,

including others outside the congregation

without first taking the time to talk to myself

or the responsible leaders in our congregation.

In Ephesians 4:25 to 27 God says to us

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

And in Matthew 18:15 we hear

15 “If your brother sins against you, a go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.

In other words, when you have a problem with someone or something that is going on speak to the relevant person about it or keep your mouth closed.

If I have a problem with my wife,

and occasionally we have differences of opinion about things

how helpful do you think it is it if I talk to my friends, work colleagues or others about it

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