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James  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  51:39
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Scripture Reading 1 Cor 13:1-13
Welcome
Good morning church family. Thank you all for attending this morning. If you are new or visiting us today I want to welcome you. If you have any questions about the service today or want me to get in touch with you, you can use a connection card in the seat back in front of you.
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Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt. I am rubber you are glue everything you say bounces of of me and sticks to you.
I remember these as a child on the playground of school. As we were mocked and teased and taunted, we used these quips to deflect the words of the attackers. Didn’t is seem so simple back then. We spouted these off and went about our way. But we neglected something in the use of these. We neglected to understand and process the actual fallacy of these sayings. That they are just not true.
Last week Josh from Green Acres brought the word. He showed us James’ teaching on Faith and Works. That a living faith produces righteous works of God in the lives of the believers. James is obviously dealing with some behaviors and attitudes in the church that needed to be addressed. Today we will be going into one of the most direct sets of scripture that deals with the human condition that we still live in. The message today is as applicable to the church today as it was back in James time. The living faith that James talks about causes changes in the lives of the believer. Today we are going to look at speech. The words we use, the effects of them, and the warning to use correct speech.
James will use this metaphor of the tongue to get his point across.
If you recall back in chapter 1 that James made a claim that “If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, his religion is useless and he deceives himself. Stand with me as we read our main passage today.
James 3:1–12 (CSB)
1 Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is mature, able also to control the whole body. 3 Now if we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we direct their whole bodies. 4 And 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. 5 So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how a small fire sets ablaze a large forest. 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among our members. It stains the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 Every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish is tamed and has been tamed by humankind, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. 10 Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. 11 Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.
Free speech. What a wonderful idea but the issue is that those little quips we used on the playground do not address the reality of our words. The effects of the words we say and use. Yes we are free and we fight for freedom to say what we want without censorship but just because we can do something does not mean we are actually free to say what ever we want. True free speech would be without limits. Without constraints. It would be a world that did not have any restrictions on what we say. However there is a problem with this. As a believer in Christ and in the Word of God our speech is not free. It has boundaries and constraints. There is a difference between God honoring speech and self honoring speech. James is addressing this issue within the community of believers. He is going to go step by step in breaking down what the consequences are when Christians forget that everything we do should glorify God.
Unlike many things in our lives,our speech is not either good or bad in itself but it is how we wield the words of our mouths that has consequences for good or evil.
James starts with one of the issues that the church was dealing with, teachers.

Teachers

James 3:1–2 (CSB)
1 Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is mature, able also to control the whole body.
The people of God have always had teachers among them. In James time these men were greatly honored. They were esteemed in the community and highly regarded. Those that taught people about God were placed in places of honor. Of course whenever there are people that are elevated to a place of honor, envy, coveting, and pride soon follow after. Men would seek the position to teach because they wanted the honor and recognition that other men recieved. In the synagogues of the time, any respectable man could come forward and speak. In scripture we see Paul and Jesus both go into the synagogues to teach. There were men that were going forward and not teaching what God’s word says but their own message.
James says that teachers will receive a stricter judgement and doesn’t go into what that judgement is but as you read scripture you see that the early church constantly fought against false teachers and frauds.
2 Peter 2:1–3 (CSB)
1 There were indeed false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved ways, and the way of truth will be maligned because of them. 3 They will exploit you in their greed with made-up stories. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.
The teachings of men and women claiming to be God’s messengers is not something to take for granted. Peter said they are here amongst us and they cause some of the most destructive work of the enemy. Why is that? God’s teachers are supposed to teach His truth, and only his truth. These false teachers do amazing damage to people because they convince people to believe lies as truth. There are religions and cults that fall in this category. Men who have decided to teach other than the truth of God, have created massive organizations for false teachers. But the horrific part of this reality is that they are unaware they are wrong. They believe the lies and then they passionately teach the lies to others. As Peter says many will follow because it will make sense to man.
The work and will of God does not make sense to man, it makes sense to the Spirit. It is through the Holy Spirit that the truth is understood and applied to a persons life. Do not be deceived by the easy claims of men and women who claim to speak for God. As James says “all stumble in many ways. If a person does not stumble in what he says then he mature.” That means that as we are sanctified, that a mature Christian can control their speech and teach.
James is not discouraging anyone from teaching, he is revealing the weight of the task. The responsibility of those who are engaged in sharing and defending the Word of God. Who here believes they are a teacher?
Matthew 28:19–20 (CSB)
19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
All believers are teachers at some level.
Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (CSB)
4 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.
All parents are teachers at some level.
What do I mean by at some level. The bible sets the requirements for elders and pastors and one of those is the ability to teach. In the body of Christ there are those that God has specifically called to seek to keep the pure truth in front of the people. They study and dig to present the truth of God to the assembly of God’s people. Each believer has a responsibility to know the Word of God intimately enough to know when false-teaching arises and to repeat accurately the truth that they have learned. Without bible literacy there will be damage as the believer passes on false truth, compromised truth, or no truth at all.
The church today has been stripped of the ability of believers to read and understand scripture. It is usually a bunch of sayings that are repeated to believe in a surface level belief. I cannot stress enough about the impact on the next generation of believers when we are not careful with the Word of God. I have personally seen the consequences in young adults, who when in youth groups and in the church in their youth, were taught false or incomplete doctrines and because of that they are confused and hurt and wounded because the church and the families failed to raise them in the ways of the Lord.
One of the characteristics of a true believer is that they carefully handle the truth of the Word of God as far as they have learned it to date.
James continues with the consequences of speech that is not under control from the heart of a mature Christian.

The Directing Tongue

James 3:2–4
2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is mature, able also to control the whole body. 3 Now if we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we direct their whole bodies. 4 And 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. .
Controlling the tongue and what we say is so crucial to the life of a believer that James make the bold claim that the person who does not stumble in what they say is also able to control the entire body. He uses the comparison of a bit in a horses mouth and a rudder on a ship to explain how what we say directs what we do.
Jessica - Story / Tony boating story
James is teaching that what a person says is the direction they will go. If the person speaks of the things of God they will follow that path. If they speak of evil they will follow that path. Words do not only have the ability to control others it has the ability to control ourselves. James add to the control of the tongue to the consuming nature of the tongue.

The Consuming Tongue

James 3:5–6 (CSB)
5 ...Consider how a small fire sets ablaze a large forest. 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among our members. It stains the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
The words we use are so powerful. Who here has ever let something out of their mouth that they just wished they could take back. Who has spoke and never realized the damage that would come from that simple comment. We have all been there. Our speech has the ability to pollute and corrupt the lives around us so easily. The word for hell in this verse literally means the “valley of Hinnom”. This was a place where there were baby scarifies. it was outside Jerusalem and was deemed an unclean place so this is where garbage, dead animal, and executed criminals would be put. The valley was a never ending fire, a constant fire. Our words have the ability to corrupt every aspect of our lives and the lives of others and once that fire is lit many times it is unquenchable.
There have been times in my life where I lived in a world of verbal abuse and slander. When I was in 8th grade and early high school, life was not fun. I would go home to verbal abuse mostly directed at my brother but also in school. I was not a fan of people. They were mean and abusive. I was told everyday if I did not get a hair cut that I would be beaten up after school. Words hurt and you never know the depths of damage they do.
We find ways to justify it but one of the most prominent sins we don’t deal with inside the church is gossip and slander. We cover it up in different ways but it what it is. When I took over a department a bunch of years ago the language was toxic. Blame, accusations, and all sorts of other things. Eventually it got to a point that I told my group that they were not to have any conversations or emails that they would not want to have in front of the owner of the company. The owner is a wonderful loving lady and this really changed the tone of the department. What if we actually asked ourselves, would I be willing to have this conversation in front of the person I am talking about? If the answer is no then maybe this isn’t a good conversation to have.
I learned a long time ago there is always a thread of truth in all jokes about other people even if it is sarcasm and ment in fun but should we enjoy the humiliation and degradation of people around us. Don’t even get started on social media which has brought a new level of freedom to hurtful speech.
But this is not an easy task. Verbal sin is probably the easiest sins to commit.

The Feral Tongue

James 3:7–8 (CSB)
7 Every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish is tamed and has been tamed by humankind, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
Man has tamed all sorts of animals from lions and bears to snakes. But the tongue still alludes captivity and taming. It is always there waiting to strike if a person is not careful.

The Sly Tongue

James 3:9–12 (CSB)
9 With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. 10 Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. 11 Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.
You see the tongue is the window into the heart of a man. And we know that we have our human nature that we will have until we die and the Spirit in us. What comes out of our mouths is what is in our hearts. These are the only two sources of what we say. We can switch back and forth but this should not be. The body of Christ should be different than that of the world around us. We should not be drawn into the slander, lying, mockery that we see in the news and media.
The speech of Christians should be gentle, gracious, tactful, kind, instructive, edifying, prudent, restrained, honest, unadorned, truthful, sincere, wise, and loving.

Conclusion

What can we take away from this today?
First understand who you spend time with will effect you speech. It does not take long for a person to take on the speech patterns of the people they hang out with. There are two types of people that we hang out with. Those we choose to, friends family and those we have to, co workers family. Be careful of the group you choose to hangout with because they can easily corrupt your speech. And be strong and courageous in your speech with the people you have to be with. You will be amazed that you can effect the words of a group by speaking differently.
But the reality is that nether of these groups are the most important person to be with and that is Jesus. If you do not spend time in his words and focused how he spoke then you will be influenced by the people around you and most likely not in a good way.
Study what the bible says about language. Lucas story
Reflect on your speech each day. Be sensitive to the fires you start or the blessing it gives. Would you be willing to have the transcript of you work day be read in your small group or in front of you mom or children?
Sticks and Stones. Rubber and glue
Speech is free but so is a brick. Build or kill, make roads or break windows.
As we go into communion this morning I ask that you examine your heart and sit before God asking that the Holy Spirit reveal to you any sin that you need to repent of today. We take these elements of communion and we remember the love of God who showed us the definition of mercy. That even though we were still sinner, still enemies of God, he chose to die on the cross as the substitution for the punishment of our sins.
Let us pray.
Luke 22:19–20 CSB
19 And he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way he also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
Where are you at today?
See me after church.
Romans 15:5–6
5 Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice.
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