Summary: Never underestimate the power of the words that come out of your mouth!
Open: OK, So the first question I want to ask today is how many parents want to know where you can buy the zipper that's pictured on the screen? The next time you say, "You better zip your lip young man or I'll zip if for you," it would have a whole new meaning, wouldn't it? Wouldn't it be great if we could actually do something as simple as zipping our lip to stop the negative kinds of things that come out of kids mouths? But let me ask another question: How many people here would like the phone number of the company that makes these so they can order one for themselves? How many spouses would like the number?
Obviously today we are going to be looking at what James has to say to us about the use of our tongue. We've seen throughout this book that James is a pastor that focuses on the tangible side of faith. - If you just talk about your religion but spend all your time in the lazy boy -- that's meaningless. Do something with God has done in your life other than just talking about it. Faith that is all talk but isn't backed up with deeds is a dead faith and is utterly useless. Today James wants to talk about the tangible side of how we talk.
Let's talk about the power you have when you talk. One of the primary lessons
this passage has to teach of us to
never underestimate the power of the words that come out of our mouths.
James is trying to get his people to understand how powerful their words actually are. One of the issues I think we all struggle with is that we often fail to realize how powerful our words actually are -- both for good and for harm. You know before we leave here today, you could just a few words that could just devastate me. It wouldn't take much. A few harsh, critical well spoken words and I would walk away from here today totally devastated. I could do the same things to any of you. One of the realities that happens when we live in community with one another is that we get to know one another's tender areas. Likewise you could say a few words that could just make my day. -- You have that type of power. So do I.
- I have a theory that there has been a moment in each of our lives when we discovered the power of our words. Either in a negative or a positive way. Most likely it was early in life. Either you said something that destroyed someone or perhaps it was something that was said to you and it just wiped you out emotionally. (ill- how many adults here still remember something someone said to you during your grade school years that hurt your feelings) Or you discovered that in a very positive way --you said an encouragement to someone and it really impacted their life. Maybe you had a teacher that come up to you when you were down and they said something positive about you and it stuck with you all these years. You can still hear the tone of their voice in your mind saying that positive thing that filled your heart. You have had things that have been said to you that you know were wrong -- you know there wasn't one bit of truth to what that person said and yet you walk away from that and inside you are still ruined. You lay in bed and you think about it over and over "Why did they say that?" We don't realize how much power is available to us.
Over and over again in the Bible there are warnings about the dangers of an unrestrained tongue.
He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. (Proverbs 13:3)
A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. (Prov. 17:27)
Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:20)
In fact it's absolutely incredible the number of verses in Prov. that address the issue of controlling what we say. In all of creation, nothing comes close to the power of words. Speech has the power to build, encourage, redirect, empower, to change. When people want to express love, the words have to be spoken -- and once they are lives are often redirected. Words have a phenomenal potential to build and they have the same potential to destroy. Poorly chosen words can kill enthusiasm, impact self-esteem, lower expectations and deflate hope and utterly destroy relationships.
In fact I don't think it's over stating the case to say that nothing impacts your life more than then the words coming out of your mouth. Words are powerful, important, and significant. And it's always been that way. Few things have as much significance as our speech. They impact you and they impact others. You've got to realize that every time you open your mouth you are causing movement. They can bring peace and joy -- they can lead someone into truth and change -- they can wound and scar and push others away.