We continue our sermon series entitled “Faith under pressure”. Preaching from Nathan Gordon. Service led by Beverley Sills.
Be careful with the desire to be large and in charge!
Over the past three weeks, we have analysed the pressures and concerns facing Jewish Christians. However, their present-day realities did not limit the ambitions of the Christians where a large number were desiring to become teachers. James in chapter three provides those who were desiring to teach with some home truths about the great responsibility of teaching and the ramifications of influencing others. James then broadens the subject matter to challenge all Christians to be careful with our tongues because our mouths can speak blessing but also curse out of the same mouth. (James 3:9-10)
A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over. – B franklin
An honest assessment of the Tongue – v5-10
- Despite the diminutive nature of our tongues, James highlights the devastating impact we can have on others based on what comes out of our mouths.
- Throughout the bible, there are examples of individuals who made great boasts and overestimated their power and authority. (See Daniel 4:30-33 & 1 Sam 17:23-24)
- James references fire as a metaphor to teach us how our words can cause tremendous damage.
- In verse 8 James says – “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison”.
Challenge – James gives a damning assessment and verdict of the human tongue; however, we should remember we are not alone in this fight. God is with us and the Holy Spirit within us can help us to tame our tongues when we feel under pressure to say something we may live to regret.
*Some great verses on boasting from the Proverbs
Pro 27:2 – Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
Pro 27:1 – Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
Hope for the imperfect Tongue – v13-18
- The imperfect tongue has a great example to learn from and that gives believers great hope for taming the tongue. (Christ is our example)
- God offers wisdom from heaven that is opposed to self-boasting or seeking to tear people down with our words.
- James encourages Christians to conduct a self-assessment and not deny if we are harbouring bitterness, envy, or selfish ambition.
- Jesus Christ was put under enormous pressure by the religious leaders who mocked and questioned his authority. However, Jesus teaches us the right way to respond to mockers and doubters. (See Matthew 22:15-22, John 8:3-11, Luke 6:6-11)
Challenge – If you feel that you often say the wrong things you are not alone! The Christians in James’ generation were facing the same challenge. We can be comforted in the fact that God has given us hope through his word and the power of the Holy Spirit to guard our tongues so that we can speak blessings and peace rather than cursing and evil.
- It’s odd that this body part is singled out for such treatment. (He doesn’t warn about the use of the elbow or the knee!). Why is the tongue a particular issue for Christians? (Use this passage, your experience and also Matthew 12:36,37 as you reflect on this question).
- Read James 3:7-8. Why can’t we tame our tongues on our own?
- How can using the acronym THINK (True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind) help us with what we say? Would you have said some of the things you did this week if you had used it? Why or why not?
- James focuses on the destructive power of the tongue, but he also hints that it can be used for good (9,10). How do Proverbs 18:4 & 21 describe the tongue’s positive effects? Can anyone think of a time when someone else’s words have been a source of life to them?
- Think about some of the current world affairs for example with Russia, Ukraine, and NATO. What do you notice about the back and forth with words that can lead to fear and devastation?
- How could you use your tongue to be a source of life to someone this week? Think of a specific person whom you could bless or encourage and pray for them.