last week we discussed faith having actions to back it up. Which means people will see your faith by the life you lead. Not that you and I will live perfectly, but if we have faith, we are trusting in the Lord for the direction of our lives. For the way in which to treat others. Our life becomes a witness to the world before even speaking a word.
today we start chapter 3 and James brings us to speaking our faith. Or at least to discussing the power in the tongue. some gifts in the church are directly connected to speaking, or using our tongues and the challenges we face with this small part of the body is where James goes today in his letter.
A few questions that we see answered in this text is ...
How powerful are our words?
What can our words do?
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
the term teacher here is connecting to the Rabbi of the day, possibly the teacher in the church was thought of and respected much of the same way.
Teachers had the power to steer people in the wrong directions in life....a danger for the teacher and all involved.
we see false teachers being spoken of in Acts, Romans and 1st and 2nd Timothy. they were a bunch either trying to sway people back to the law and circumcision or they were teaching false doctrine to get followers for themselves and were twisting scripture for their own gain.
this is not good for the church. this verse is possibly a good warning for those wanting the position when God has not called them to it.
there is a certain gift that God has given for teachers in the Kingdom and they should be encouraged to walk in their calling! the church needs everyone called to a ministry, to be learning, growing and operating in ministry.
then James gets humble.... declaring in verse 2....
For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.
whether speaking of teachers only or all of the christian body, we all stumble in many ways. if we didn’t we would be perfect. this stumbling James is speaking of is in light of what we say. what we speak. James is making the assertion that our struggle in this world is not just behavior, but our words. And that our words have a connection to our body.
the illustrations he gives in this portion of text is worth pondering.....
the first one is compared to how we control horses.
If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.
I have only had one experience of horseback riding. I am sure they rode horses much more back in James time then now. the reference would be very effective to his audience.
as for my experience..... it was truly incredible at how this massive animal would willingly submit to the gentle pull of the reigns. about the same control of a car today.
think about what he is implying here.... how much influence our mouth, or our words have over the direction of our bodies.....
let’s go there for a minute.... have you ever spoken or thought really negative? how did that work for you? we must be aware, it can have a direct impact on what we do....it can effect our decisions and actions.
let’s see where James is going in his next illustration....
Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.
in those days they had large sailing vessels. the rudder was small compared to the size of the boat, just like our mouths are small compared to our body…but what an effect it can have. it can direct us and others.
don’t try this but imagine someone yelling “fire” in a shopping mall?
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
James sees the power and effect it can have. a little fire in the woods is all it takes to burn down a forest.
a word spoken, just one word can wreck a person!
how important are our words?
Proverbs tells us death and life are in the power of the tongue! and
Matthew’s gospel tells us on the day of Judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.
are words are important!
James says in verse 6
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
look at the depths James expresses this. How wicked and evil can our words be? a world of unrighteousness.....
1 Jn 5:19* says that “the whole world is in the power of the evil one
our words stain the whole body. when we have used words that were not from the Spirit but were taring down another, we knew and still probably remember… can we take them back once they are said? thanks be to God that there is forgiveness, amen?
the power in our tongue can do as much damage as anything physical.
i work with a christian that has ministered for a number of years to young men that have been hurt by words there fathers said, or didn’t say. he calls it the father wound. he told me most of the young men went down horrible roads in life until they started healing.
words are powerful!
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,
but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
this is a real place of humility here, when we realize how much impact our words can and do have. it reminds me of Isaiah when he confesses he is a man of unclean lips.
we must realize we need the power of the Spirit to work in us to control our tongues. see what he says in 9 and 10.
With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
what a great key here that we need to keep in the forefront of our minds. God made mankind! How should we treat people?
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
sad to hear this!James uses the term brothers, so we can see him speaking to the christian body.
we bless our Father and curse people? why?
what a great key here that we need to keep in the forefront of our minds. God made mankind! How should we treat people? if we look at them as God made, how can we not but speak life to them.
Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?
Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
a few rhetorical questions to finish off here, James is challenging the believer to question what comes out of their mouth.
so, the questions we pondered at the beginning.
how powerful are words?
what can words do?
God spoke and this universe came to be.