Summary: Controlling the tongue. Why is it so hard? Is the control of the tongue a valid indicator of our spiritual condition? James give us some illustrations that are very useful in defining the ravages of an out of control tongue.
Let’s ponder on this for a moment before we plunge into today’s Scripture.
“There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides You; there is no Rock like our God.”
If you are a son or daughter of God you are one of the most privileged souls in the universe. And, being in that category might cause someone to be prideful or boastful but anyone who is a child of the Holy One knows that it is only because of the mercy and grace of the One and only true God that we have that privilege.
Let’s say 1 Samuel 2:2 together!
James 3:1-12 NIV (the Scriptures are divided up like this for PPT purposes)
“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
“We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.
“Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.
“Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
“Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
The tongue - who’s got your tongue?
Of course we think of the tongue as verbal communication.
Language, the flow of information from one person to another.
These days much person to person communication is done by text using the very same function of language.
There are emails, blogs, vlogs, texting even old fashioned methods like calling on the phone or speaking directly to each other!
In this passage James is warning about the repercussions of an out of control tongue! Or … is he warning about the results if that little flapping piece of flesh is under the control of the wrong spirit?
Look at this little statement …
James 3:8a LEB
“No human being is able to tame the tongue.”
So, what do we think the problem is with an out of control tongue?
Perhaps the question should be, “Who has a hold of your tongue?”
Let’s take a little walk down the avenue of 1 Corinthians 13 and put our tongues or what we say to the test. OK?
Love is not boastful:
Were there boastful people in the Bible? Of course there were. There were people going around preaching and putting down others as if they themselves were superior to the apostles. The apostle Paul was fighting this in his letters to the Corinthians.
So, what is the response of one whose tongue is controlled by the Lord?
Isaiah 45:25 NIV
“But all the descendants of Israel will find deliverance in the Lord and will make their boast in Him.”
Jeremiah 9:23-24 LEB
“The wise man must not boast in his wisdom, and the warrior must not boast in his might, the wealthy man must not boast in his wealth.
“But only in this must the one who boasts boast, that he has insight, and that he knows Me, that I am Yahweh, showing loyal love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for in these things I delight,’ declares Yahweh.”
“But as for me, may it never be that I boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
When it came to boasting those who failed the test were still living unspiritual lives and the old self-centered nature was controlling their tongues.
While those who were boasting in the Lord were controlled by the Holy Spirit.
You know, we talk about being crucified with Christ and we glibly quote the Scripture but there are Christians in the middle east who are literally being tortured and crucified for Christ right now!