1. In a recent sermon the other day one of my pastors related that the book of James discusses the tongue more than any other…..this seems appropriate since we seem to use a large segment of our time talking.
2. I’m not sure about you but I often find myself saying the wrong thing. I’m often much more comfortable expressing myself through the written word so that I have an opportunity to take some time and be thoughtful concerning the points I would like to make. Unfortunately, we don’t always have that luxury in real-time conversation, and our emotions often take over.
3. James 3:3 states Now when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide the whole animal. I used to watch my grandfather place the bridle over his plow horse and then insert the bit into the animal’s mouth. I thought it was cruel, but at the end of the row my grandfather could turn the horse on a dime. Just as we place a bit in the mouth of a horse to control it we should have a bit….of sorts…..to control our tongue so that when we are engaged in conversation we say the right things.
4. Now think about large ships like the Queen Mary. How did the crew control such a huge vessel weighing more than 81,000 tons? When you compare the rudder to the actual size of the ship it’s amazing the crew could dock the ship as they did. James 3:4 reminds us [to] consider ships: though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs…in other words----it shouldn’t take a monumental effort to control your tongue.
5. The tongue is a mighty weapon. We often use it to destroy someone else on purpose or unintentionally. What we think of as small little comment can actually wreak a bit of havoc with someone else……So too, though the tongue is a small part [of the body], it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites (James 3:5).
6. James 3:6-7 continues the thought….And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our [bodies]; it pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell. For every creature—animal or bird, reptile or fish—is tamed and has been tamed by man. Our tongue can destroy what we love. Our tongue can get us into mischief. Our tongue can embarrass us greatly. Our tongue shapes our character and provides a method for others to view us. Unfortuntately very few men learn to control their tongues even though we have learned to control many things of this world including various animals.
7. Many people live their lives by excelling as verbal arsonists setting fires everywhere they go. They berate their kids, their spouse, and their friends. They intimidate others with their arrogance and some even turn folks off by their constant comments of doom and gloom.
8. We must remember our tongues display who we are…..the true us….not that fake one we put on for company. Our words shape who we are.
9. The tongue is inconsistent……The words we utter often don’t make sense. James 3: 9 explains…With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God's likeness. How can this be?
10. How many people did you judge today? Curse today? Belittle today? Perhaps you are like me and you have explained your actions away because you didn’t speak your words….you just thought them. Perhaps you voiced your opinion to someone else and not to the person your words could destroy.
11. It doesn’t matter. Your words….spoken or unspoken…..delivered to the person they are about or to someone else are YOUR words from YOUR tongue. By allowing your tongue to flap in that manner you are belittling something…cursing something made in God’s image.
12. The true condition of your heart comes out through your tongue. Many, many years prior to Freud explaining why we have so many hang-ups Jesus had the answer as He said, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).
13. It would seem then that the solution to control the tongue is not a bridle and bit…..not a rudder….., but a new heart. Rid yourself of all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 18:31), and we need to continually ask God for help everyday…..Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).
I’ll be asking God for His help everyday…..will you?
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