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Taming the Traitorous Tongue

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Two weeks ago we looked at the passage where James exhorts us to walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. It was a challenge to integrity. Correct speech is profitless without correct actions. Our works or actions prove our faith to be living, genuine. Conversely if someone has correct speech but no works then that person proves to have a dead, useless faith. James is sharing this particularly in a context where some believers are in extreme poverty yet are not being practically helped by their fellow believers.
Two weeks ago, we looked at the passage where James exhorts us to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. It was a challenge to integrity. Correct speech is profitless without correct actions. Our works or actions prove our faith to be living, genuine. Conversely if someone has correct speech but no works then that person proves to have a dead, useless faith. James shared this in a particular context where some believers are in extreme poverty yet are not being practically helped by their fellow believers.
Words are powerful. Anyone of you here could walk up to me and just devastate me by something you say. Also true anyone of you could walk up to me tonight when the service is over and just absolutely make my day by saying something. Isn’t it crazy that each one of you has so much power to do that to me through your words?
Words are powerful. Anyone of you here could walk up to me and just devastate me by something you say. Also true anyone of you could walk up to me tonight when the service is over and just absolutely make my day by saying something. Isn’t it crazy that each one of you has so much power to do that to me through your words?
We also looked at the words of Jesus in the Gospel according to Matthew, speaking of the Day of Judgment, the separating of the sheep and the goats. The sheep or true followers of Jesus were recognized by their works. Likewise, the goats or false believers were recognized by their lack of works.
We also looked at the words of Jesus in the Gospel according to Matthew, speaking of the Day of Judgment, the separating of the sheep and the goats. The sheep or true followers of Jesus were recognized by their works. Likewise, the goats or false believers were recognized by their lack of works.
Now I want to ask you, do you know the difference between a handgun and a shotgun? A handgun shoots one bullet at a time. But a shotgun fires lots of smaller pellets all at once. The destructive capability is much much greater with a shotgun.
Now I want to ask you, do you know the difference between a handgun and a shotgun? A handgun shoots one bullet at a time. But a shotgun fires lots of smaller pellets all at once. The destructive capability is much much greater with a shotgun.
Today we look at the next part of James letter. Here he says that being controlled in our speech is a great challenge that all believers face. He makes clear that the tongue although physically small has a great impact.
Today we look at the next part of James letter. Here he says that being controlled in our speech is a great challenge that all believers face. He makes clear that the tongue although physically small has a great impact.
And that gives us an image to understand what James starts off by saying here. Each one of you here is armed with a handgun. We have this incredible power to shoot and injury someone, maybe even critically, with our words. Are you with me so far? But when you get up before people as a teacher your handgun gets turned into a shotgun. Because now the words that you speak are able to hit many targets all at once. That’s an even greater responsibility! That has to be taken seriously!
And that gives us an image to understand what James starts off by saying here. Each one of you here is armed with a handgun. We have this incredible power to shoot and injury someone, maybe even critically, with our words. Are you with me so far? But when you get up before people as a teacher your handgun gets turned into a shotgun. Because now the words that you speak are able to hit many targets all at once. That’s an even greater responsibility! That has to be taken seriously!
James continues on to point out the great destructive potential of the tongue. He points out that while humans have been able to dominate or subdue all the wild beasts of the earth their own tongue remains the most difficult of wild things to tame.
James continues on to point out the great destructive potential of the tongue. He writes that while humans have been able to dominate or subdue all the wild beasts of the earth, their own tongue remains the most difficult of wild things to tame.
When I prepare a message for you I take a lot of time in preparation. I’ll try to spend at least 20 hours preparing. That’s prayer, that’s listening to the Lord, that’s thinking, and that’s a LOT of studying the Bible and various commentaries. Not to mention actually beginning to write it all down to plan what to say to work out what illustrations might be relevant, effective, and interesting. Teaching is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. And when I get up in front of you there’s like these mixed feelings I get.
When I prepare a message for you I take a lot of time in preparation. I’ll try to spend at least 20 hours preparing. That’s prayer, that’s listening to the Lord, that’s thinking, and that’s a LOT of studying the Bible and various commentaries. Not to mention actually beginning to write it all down to plan what to say to work out what illustrations might be relevant, effective, and interesting. Teaching is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. And when I get up in front of you there’s like these mixed feelings I get.
In context James is addressing two issues.
In context James is addressing two issues.
Because on the one hand I love sharing God’s word. And it’s one of my greatest joys in life when I can see people ‘get it’, when they hear God speaking to them and they respond, they change, they grow!
Because on the one hand I love sharing God’s word. And it’s one of my greatest joys in life when I can see people ‘get it’, when they hear God speaking to them and they respond, they change, they grow!
First, that not many should set their ambitions on being teachers. Because of their status and position teachers’ speech has even greater impact and influence, yet the speech of the believers is still not controlled.
First, that not many should set their ambitions on being teachers. Because of their status and position teachers’ speech has broad and powerful impact and influence, yet the speech of these believers were still not under control.
But on the other hand there’s a fear that I have too. Yes I took my time to prepare responsibly and yes I’m going to preach what I believe the Lord told me. But what if I get it wrong? What if I heard wrong? What if I made a mistake in my research and preparation? A few wrong words can cause great injury. How will I answer to you? How will I answer to God?
But on the other hand there’s a fear that I have too. Yes I took my time to prepare responsibly and yes I’m going to preach what I believe the Lord told me. But what if I get it wrong? What if I heard wrong? What if I made a mistake in my research and preparation? A few wrong words can cause great injury. How will I answer to you? How will I answer to God?
Secondly, the church body as a whole, not just those whose ambition is to be teachers, are still unstable in their speech, sometimes cursing and sometime blessing.
Secondly, the church body as a whole, not just those whose ambition is to be teachers, are still unstable in their speech, sometimes cursing and sometime blessing.
And so I’m also careful who I will share this pulpit with. Sometimes I hear about ‘This guys great, you should really have him come share at heartbeat!’! But unless I can listen to a couple of sermons to get a feel for the person, unless I know the person, I’m not very open to invite them. Because teachers are armed with shotguns. The wrong words can devastate many people in the blink of an eye.
And so I’m also careful who I will share this pulpit with. Sometimes I hear about ‘This guys great, you should really have him come share at heartbeat!’! But unless I can listen to a couple of sermons to get a feel for the person, unless I know the person, I’m not very open to invite them. Because teachers are armed with shotguns. The wrong words can devastate many people in the blink of an eye.
Finally, James concludes this passage by showing that fruit is according to its tree. We could say that just as in the previous passage the message was that good works come from good faith, so too good speech comes from good faith. Good faith results in good works and good speech.
Finally, James concludes this passage by showing that fruit is according to its tree. We could say that just as in the previous passage the message was that good works come from good faith, so too good speech comes from good faith. Good faith results in good works and good speech.
Review

Review

John Chrysostom (347–407) became one of the outstanding pastors of the early church, but he initially resisted the invitation to become a bishop. When asked why he was so reluctant, he argued, with irresistible logic, that no one would consider pulling any old person out of the crowd, turning them into a military dignitary and insisting they head up a great army. It would be stupid. Turning to another illustration, he said they would be foolish to entrust a fully-laden merchant ship into the hands of an inexperienced sea captain like himself, lest I should sink the ship. But in that case, as he points out, the only loss would be a material one. In the church, by contrast, the loss caused by inept or inexperienced handling of people will be eternal. And so it is no wonder that James writes, “Not many of you should become teachers.”
John Chrysostom (347–407) became one of the outstanding pastors of the early church, but he initially resisted the invitation to become a bishop. When asked why he was so reluctant, he argued, with irresistible logic, that no one would consider pulling any old person out of the crowd, turning them into a military dignitary and insisting they head up a great army. It would be stupid. Turning to another illustration, he said they would be foolish to entrust a fully-laden merchant ship into the hands of an inexperienced sea captain like himself, lest I should sink the ship. But in that case, as he points out, the only loss would be a material one. In the church, by contrast, the loss caused by inept or inexperienced handling of people will be eternal. And so it is no wonder that James writes, “Not many of you should become teachers.”
Two weeks ago, we looked at the passage where James exhorts us to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. It was a challenge to integrity. Correct speech is profitless without correct actions. Our works or actions prove our faith to be living, genuine.
Two weeks ago, we looked at the passage where James exhorts us to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. It was a challenge to integrity. Correct speech is profitless without correct actions. Our works or actions prove our faith to be living, genuine.
Thus, following Jesus, James maintains that our words, which come from our heart, reveal much about our heart (cf. ; ; ). Negative, poisonous words spew forth from a corrupt heart like a volcano erupting from beneath the earth’s surface. Or, as Dale Ellenburg quips, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.”
Thus, following Jesus, James maintains that our words, which come from our heart, reveal much about our heart (cf. ; ; ). Negative, poisonous words spew forth from a corrupt heart like a volcano erupting from beneath the earth’s surface. Or, as Dale Ellenburg quips, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.”
Conversely if someone has correct speech but no works then that person proves to have a dead, useless faith. James shared this in a particular context where some believers were in extreme poverty yet were not being practically helped by their fellow believers.
Conversely if someone has correct speech but no works then that person proves to have a dead, useless faith. James shared this in a particular context where some believers were in extreme poverty yet were not being practically helped by their fellow believers.
This all paints a negative, depressing picture for us. And indeed when our hearts and thus tongues are at the mercy of the sinful nature there is great potential for damage and disaster.
This all paints a negative, depressing picture for us. And indeed when our hearts and thus tongues are at the mercy of the sinful nature there is great potential for damage and disaster.
We also looked at the words of Jesus in the Gospel according to Matthew, speaking of the Day of Judgment, the separating of the sheep and the goats. The sheep or true followers of Jesus were recognized by their works and commended and rewarded. Likewise, the goats or false believers were recognized by their lack of works.
We also looked at the words of Jesus in the Gospel according to Matthew, speaking of the Day of Judgment, the separating of the sheep and the goats. The sheep or true followers of Jesus were recognized by their works and commended and rewarded. Likewise, the goats or false believers were recognized by their lack of works.
How many families have been torn about by careless words? By shouting matches and slammed doors?
How many families have been torn about by careless words? By shouting matches and slammed doors?
Overview

Overview

How many marriages have been ended by accusations and sarcastic and hateful comments?
How many marriages have been ended by accusations and sarcastic and hateful comments?
Today we look at the next part of James letter. He says that being controlled in our speech is a great challenge that all believers face. He makes clear that the tongue although physically small has a great impact.
Today we look at the next part of James letter. He says that being controlled in our speech is a great challenge that all believers face. He makes clear that the tongue although physically small has a great impact.
How many boyfriend/girlfriends have split up from careless and misdirected words?
How many boyfriend/girlfriends have split up from careless and misdirected words?
James continues on to point out the great destructive potential of the tongue. He writes that while humans have been able to dominate or subdue all the wild beasts of the earth, their own tongue remains the most difficult of wild things to tame.
James continues on to point out the great destructive potential of the tongue. He writes that while humans have been able to dominate or subdue all the wild beasts of the earth, their own tongue remains the most difficult of wild things to tame.
How many friendships have been blown up by gossip and rumours?
How many friendships have been blown up by gossip and rumours?
In context James is addressing two issues.
In context James is addressing two issues.
How many wars started? Political careers ended by one careless sentence? Professional lives ended? Honour lost?
How many wars started? Political careers ended by one careless sentence? Professional lives ended? Honour and reputation lost?
First, that not many should set their ambitions on being teachers. A teacher or Rabbi was a honorable and respected person in Jewish culture but the majority of believers James was writing to were not Spiritually mature enough in the area of speech to be teachers. Teachers are armed with shotguns.
First, that not many should set their ambitions on being teachers. A teacher or Rabbi was a honorable and respected person in Jewish culture but the majority of believers James was writing to were not Spiritually mature enough in the area of speech to be teachers. Teachers are armed with shotguns.
The casualties of bad speech if seen would doubtless cover the face of the earth. (Slide: Cemetery)
The casualties of bad speech if seen would doubtless cover the face of the earth. (Slide: Cemetery)
Secondly, this struggle to control the tongue was found to be common throughout the body of Christ as a whole, not just those whose ambition was to be teachers. The tongue needed taming.
Secondly, this struggle to control the tongue was found to be common throughout the body of Christ as a whole, not just those whose ambition was to be teachers. The tongue needed taming.
It’s no wonder that James wrote:
It’s no wonder that James wrote:
Finally, James concludes this passage by showing that fruit is according to its tree. We could say that just as in the previous passage the message was that good works come from good faith, so too good speech comes from good faith. Good faith results in good works and good speech.
Finally, James concludes this passage by showing that fruit is according to its tree. We could say that just as in the previous passage the message was that good works come from good faith, so too good speech comes from good faith. Good faith results in good works and good speech.
“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 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.” ()
“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 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.” ()
Quote:

Quote:

A tongue set on fire by hell. The word translated into English as hell is geenna (“Gehenna”). Geenna is a place name of a ravine south of Jerusalem. During the OT times it was a place where pagan sacrifices by fire were made. After reform it was used as a rubbish dump which would regularly be burned. During the time of James geenna came to mean a place of fiery punishment and corruption. Our tongue is a traitor to the one who created it.
In 2001 I led a YWAM outreach team to Cagayan De Oro in Mindanao, Philippines. The Philippines at that time was made up of 7,109 islands. Mindanao was the largest Island in the south. This was the third time I’d led an outreach team with YWAM and at last my vision, values, and skills were all aligned and strong.
John Chrysostom (347–407) became one of the outstanding pastors of the early church, but he initially resisted the invitation to become a bishop. When asked why he was so reluctant, he argued, with irresistible logic, that no one would consider pulling any old person out of the crowd, turning them into a military dignitary and insisting they head up a great army. It would be stupid. Turning to another illustration, he said they would be foolish to entrust a fully-laden merchant ship into the hands of an inexperienced sea captain like himself, lest I should sink the ship. But in that case, as he points out, the only loss would be a material one. In the church, by contrast, the loss caused by inept or inexperienced handling of people will be eternal. And so it is no wonder that James writes, “Not many of you should become teachers.”
John Chrysostom (347–407) became one of the outstanding pastors of the early church, but he initially resisted the invitation to become a bishop. When asked why he was so reluctant, he argued, with irresistible logic, that no one would consider pulling any old person out of the crowd, turning them into a military dignitary and insisting they head up a great army. It would be stupid. Turning to another illustration, he said they would be foolish to entrust a fully-laden merchant ship into the hands of an inexperienced sea captain like himself, lest I should sink the ship. But in that case, as he points out, the only loss would be a material one. In the church, by contrast, the loss caused by inept or inexperienced handling of people will be eternal. And so it is no wonder that James writes, “Not many of you should become teachers.”
In this fuller understanding of the word we can say that the tongue has become destructive by corruption. And this points us to our hope.
It was an exciting trip. I tried balut. It was often sold in the evenings sort of as a desert. Balut is a ducks egg at between 17-21 days (you tell them how old you want). It’s boiled and then…well, down the hatch. Beak. Feathers. Feet. It’s warm and slimy.
Illustration:

Illustration:

Our hope is this: In the beginning when God finished His work of creation he observed all that He had created and He declared it very good. The mountains were very good. The flowers were very good. And we, mankind, made in His image were very good. Our ability for speech was very good.
There were spiders in one village home that we slept in that were as large as my hand and made clacking noises as they walked along the tiles. I asked if they were poisonous and the host said no. Then he said however if they bite you then it will be swollen and very painful for a week. Sure sounded poisonous to me!
During the lecture phase of a Discipleship Training School with YWAM that I was staffing we took one session to do a DISC assessment, a kind of personality profiling questionnaire. Have you done one of these? Basically you fill out a ton of multiple-answer questions and then it uses that data to give you a profile of your personality. Are you more task focused or people focused? Are you an introvert or extrovert? And so on.
During the lecture phase of a Discipleship Training School with YWAM that I was staffing we took one session to do a DISC assessment, a kind of personality profiling questionnaire. Have you done one of these? Basically you fill out a ton of multiple-answer questions and then it uses that data to give you a profile of your personality. Are you more task focused or people focused? Are you an introvert or extrovert? And so on.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God sin came into the world. Corruption occurred. And all since Adam have been born into sin, born with a sinful nature.
We taught in a school run by World Vision. Helped build a library for a village. Gave our testimonies many times. Traveled to many beautiful places. It was an amazing trip.
Well guess what. Several months later we had finished our lecture phase. We had finished our outreach phase. We were having our debrief time. And this one girl broke into tears. And she said that she felt boxed in and misunderstood because of that session where we did the DISC assessment.
Well guess what. Several months later we had finished our lecture phase. We had finished our outreach phase. We were having our debrief time. And this one girl broke into tears. And she said that she felt boxed in and misunderstood because of that session where we did the DISC assessment.
AND YET BECAUSE OF CHRIST WE CAN BE FREE FROM SIN! IN CHRIST SIN IS NO LONGER OUR MASTER!
We also visited Smoky Mountain Church. I’ll never forget it. Smoky Mountain Church was located in a huge land fill/rubbish dump. First, we visited the families living in a shanty town inside the dump. We spent time playing with the children wearing rags. The families living there had nothing really. They picked through the rubbish every day to find food that wasn’t too spoiled and maybe somethings they could try to sell.
I was shocked. Because what I hadn’t realized is that when those words were spoken giving the results of the assessment it struck her deeply and not for the better. And as I listened to her I realized that just a few additional words could have made all the difference for her life for the last several months. If I had thought to state at the beginning clearly that this was just a tool to try and understand ourselves and each other better but that it wasn’t definitive and that it didn’t mean we couldn’t change – well, that would have dramatically changed the course of life for this girl.
I was shocked. Because what I hadn’t realized is that when those words were spoken giving the results of the assessment it struck her deeply and not for the better. And as I listened to her I realized that just a few additional words could have made all the difference for her life for the last several months. Perhaps if I had stated at the beginning clearly that this was just a tool to try and understand ourselves and each other better but that it wasn’t definitive and that it didn’t mean we couldn’t change – well, that would have dramatically changed the course of life for this girl.
Heartbeat, our tongues, our speech has the potential for great harm yes. But it even more so has the potential for great blessing! For healing! For encouragement! For lifting up! For energizing!
After spending time with them we visited the church and met the pastor. The church was also located in the rubbish dump. I’ll never forget the Pastor serving there. He was laughing the whole time we spoke with him and he had a great big smile with a couple of missing teeth. Laughing he told us why it was called smoky mountain church. He said that it was because once a week the land fill would be set on fire to burn the newly added rubbish for the week. He said that the terrible smell we had endured became worse with the burning and usually everyone spent the day vomiting. He explained all this smiling and laughing. I couldn’t tell if he had had some sort of mental break as a part of serving there for too long or if this was just how he dealt with the stresses he faced.
Words are powerful.
Words are powerful.
says “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Returning to our passage, James was speaking of a tongue set on fire by hell. The word translated into English as hell is geenna (“Gehenna”). Geenna is a place name of a ravine or valley to the south of Jerusalem. It ran into the Kidron valley which if you are familiar with your Old Testament than you know the Kidron valley became associated with everything unclean, everything defiled and detestable. Also during the OT times it was a place where pagan sacrifices by fire were made – including infant sacrifice.
And you know sometimes people can just absolutely forget how powerful they are. Sometimes I can forget. Sometimes I’ll just fire off a response to someone and end it with ‘in my opinion’ or ‘I’m just telling you how I feel about it’. You know what? That can be poor excuse. If I’m careless with my words that’s like I shot that handgun we were talking about. I squeezed the trigger a bunch of times, bam bam bam bam bam. And then finish off with ‘in my opinion’. That’s no excuse for shooting the person. That’s no excuse for careless words. Not only could that person feel injured but one day I’m going to be at the judgment throne before God. When He looks at my actions will He find a living faith that produced life giving words? Or will He find a dead faith that produced death giving words?
And you know sometimes people can just absolutely forget how powerful they are. Sometimes I can forget. Sometimes I’ll just fire off a response to someone and end it with ‘in my opinion’ or ‘I’m just telling you how I feel about it’. You know what? That can be poor excuse. If I’m careless with my words that’s like I shot that handgun we were talking about. I squeezed the trigger a bunch of times, bam bam bam bam bam. And then finish off with ‘in my opinion’. That’s no excuse for shooting the person. That’s no excuse for careless words. Not only could that person feel injured but one day I’m going to be at the judgment throne before God. When He looks at my actions will He find a living faith that produced life giving words? Or will He find a dead faith that produced death giving words?
There are many hurts in life. And yet if we make Jesus Lord of our tongues then we can see healing, joy, and peace come into the lives of those around us.
After King Josiah’s reform it was used as a rubbish dump which would have been regularly set on fire and burned. During the time of James geenna had come to mean a place of fiery punishment and corruption. And if the Temple mount as the highest point in Jerusalem represented or illustrated the closest place to the presence of the Lord God then Gehenna as the lowest point in Jerusalem would have also have had illustrative potential to the listeners.
Thus, following Jesus, James maintains that our words, which come from our heart, reveal much about our heart (cf. ; ; ). Negative, poisonous words spew forth from a corrupt heart like a volcano erupting from beneath the earth’s surface. Or, as Dale Ellenburg quips, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.”
Thus, following Jesus’ teaching, James maintains that our words, which come from our heart, reveal much about our heart (cf. ; ; ). Negative, poisonous words spew forth from a corrupt heart like a volcano erupting from beneath the earth’s surface. Or, as Dale Ellenburg quips, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.”
Under the mastery of sin our tongue is a traitor to the one who created it. It spreads the fire and corruption of defilement, of all that is detestable.
Destructive Potential

Destructive Potential

In this fuller understanding of the word we can say that the tongue has become destructive by corruption. And this points us to our hope.
This all paints a negative, depressing picture for us. And indeed when our hearts and thus tongues are at the mercy of the sinful nature there is great potential for damage and disaster.
This all paints a negative, depressing picture for us. And indeed when our hearts and thus tongues are at the mercy of the sinful nature there is great potential for damage and disaster.
Our hope is this: In the beginning when God finished His work of creation he observed all that He had created and He declared it very good. The mountains were very good. The flowers were very good. And we, mankind, made in His image were very good. Our ability for speech was very good.
How many families have been torn about by careless words? By shouting matches and slammed doors?
How many families have been torn about by careless words? By shouting matches and slammed doors?
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God sin came into the world. Corruption occurred. And all since Adam have been born into sin, born with a sinful nature.
How many marriages have been ended by accusations and sarcastic and hateful comments?
How many marriages have been ended by accusations and sarcastic and hateful comments?
AND YET BECAUSE OF CHRIST WE CAN BE FREE FROM SIN! IN CHRIST SIN IS NO LONGER OUR MASTER! That which has been corrupted can also be redeemed, made pure again, restored to God’s original purpose.
How many boyfriend/girlfriends have split up from careless and misdirected words?
How many boyfriend/girlfriends have split up from careless and misdirected words?
Heartbeat, our tongues, our speech has the potential for great harm yes. But it even more so has the potential for great blessing! For healing! For encouragement! For lifting up! For energizing!
How many friendships have been blown up by gossip and rumours?
How many friendships have been blown up by gossip and rumours?
says “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
How many wars started? Political careers ended by one careless sentence? Professional lives ended? Honour and reputation lost?
How many wars started? Political careers ended by one careless sentence? Professional lives ended? Honour and reputation lost?
I’ve experienced this many times and I hope many of you have also. When I’ve been down, been depressed, going through difficult times, often a friend has spoken some simple word of encouragement that has really helped to cheer me up and get me through whatever difficulty I was facing.
The casualties of bad speech if seen would doubtless cover the face of the earth. (Slide: Cemetery)
The casualties of bad speech if seen would doubtless cover the face of the earth. (Slide: Cemetery)
There are many hurts in life. And yet if we make Jesus Lord of our tongues then we can see healing, joy, and peace come into the lives of those around us.
It’s no wonder that James wrote:
It’s no wonder that James wrote:
Speech is powerful and not just in speaking to others. Heartbeat, there is a special power in spoken, audible prayer. There’s nothing magical about it of course. But what we hear influences us. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that children who are repeatedly told they are worthless and criticized will often struggle with issues of self-worth even into adulthood. Some of you here might even have been raised in such an environment. Likewise, those children who are repeatedly told that they are extra special often are seen to be more successful in life with accompanying high levels of self-confidence.
“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 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.” ()
“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 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.” ()
When we speak out our prayers there is the potential for our faith to be reinforced and multiplied. Praying aloud that God IS ALMIGHTY, that He IS in control, that He DOES care, that He DOES NOT forget, that He HAS forgiven helps build our faith. Our certainty of these truths grow as we proclaim it out loud. Many will struggle with mentally agreeing with truths but not really believing it in their hearts. Repeated audible prayer will take those truths and begin to saturate your heart with them. Your confidence in the Lord will grow and grow.
Story

Smoky Mountain Church

Heartbeat let me strongly encourage you to find time and space to pray out loud daily.
In 2001 I led a YWAM outreach team to Cagayan De Oro in Mindanao, Philippines. The Philippines at that time was made up of 7,109 islands. Mindanao was the largest Island in the south. This was the third time I’d led an outreach team with YWAM and at last my vision, values, and skills were all aligned and strong.
In 2001 I led a YWAM outreach team to Cagayan De Oro in Mindanao, Philippines. The Philippines at that time was made up of 7,109 islands. Mindanao was the largest Island in the south. This was the third time I’d led an outreach team with YWAM and at last my vision, values, and skills were all aligned and strong.
The Bible describes God as speaking creation into existence. There is great power in speech.
It was an exciting trip. I tried balut. It was often sold in the evenings sort of as a desert. Balut is a ducks egg at between 17-21 days (you tell them how old you want). It’s boiled and then…well, down the hatch. Beak. Feathers. Feet. It’s warm and slimy.
It was an exciting trip. I tried balut. It was often sold in the evenings sort of as a desert. Balut is a ducks egg at between 17-21 days (you tell them how old you want). It’s boiled and then…well, down the hatch. Beak. Feathers. Feet. It’s warm and slimy.
There were spiders in one village home that we slept in that were as large as my hand and made clacking noises as they walked along the tiles. I asked if they were poisonous and the host said no. Then he said however if they bite you then it will be swollen and very painful for a week. Sure sounded poisonous to me!
There were spiders in one village home that we slept in that were as large as my hand and made clacking noises as they walked along the tiles. I asked our host if they were poisonous and he said no. Then he said that if they bite you then it will be swollen and very painful for a week. Sure sounded poisonous to me!
We taught in a school run by World Vision. Helped build a library for a village. Gave our testimonies many times. Traveled to many beautiful places. It was an amazing trip.
We taught in a school run by World Vision. Helped build a library for a village. Gave our testimonies many times. Traveled to many beautiful places. It was an amazing trip.
We also visited Smoky Mountain Church. I’ll never forget it. Smoky Mountain Church was located in a huge land fill/rubbish dump. First, we visited the families living in a shanty town inside the dump. We spent time playing with the children wearing rags. The families living there had nothing really. They picked through the rubbish every day to find food that wasn’t too spoiled and maybe somethings they could try to sell.
We also visited Smoky Mountain Church. I’ll never forget it. Smoky Mountain Church was located in a huge land fill/rubbish dump. First, we visited the families living in a shanty town inside the dump. We spent time playing with the children wearing rags. The families living there had nothing really. They picked through the rubbish every day to find food that wasn’t too spoiled and maybe somethings they could try to sell.
After spending time with them we visited the church and met the pastor. The church was also located in the rubbish dump. I’ll never forget the Pastor serving there. He was laughing the whole time we spoke with him and he had a great big smile with a couple of missing teeth. Laughing he told us why it was called smoky mountain church. He said that it was because once a week the land fill would be set on fire to burn the newly added rubbish for the week. He said that the terrible smell we had endured became worse with the burning and usually everyone spent the day vomiting. He explained all this smiling and laughing. I couldn’t tell if he had had some sort of mental break as a part of serving there for too long or if this was just how he dealt with the stresses he faced.
After spending time with them we visited the church and met the pastor. The church was also located in the rubbish dump. I’ll never forget the Pastor serving there. He was laughing the whole time we spoke with him and he had a great big smile with a couple of missing teeth. Laughing he told us why it was called smoky mountain church. He said that it was because once a week the land fill would be set on fire to burn the newly added rubbish for the week. He said that the terrible smell we had endured became worse with the burning and usually everyone spent the day vomiting. He explained all this smiling and laughing. I couldn’t tell if he had had some sort of mental break as a part of serving there for too long or if this was just how he dealt with the stresses he faced.
Background

Background - Gehenna

Returning to our passage, James was speaking of a tongue set on fire by hell. The word translated into English as hell is geenna in the Greek(“Gehenna”). Geenna is a place name of a ravine or valley on the south side of Jerusalem. It ran into the Kidron valley which if you are familiar with your Old Testament than you know the Kidron valley became associated with everything unclean, everything defiled and detestable. Also during the OT times it was a place where pagan sacrifices by fire were made – including infant sacrifice to the god Molech.
Returning to our passage, in verse 6 James says that the tongue is set on fire by hell. In the New Testament the word hell occurs 14 times. And 12 of those 14 was is translated into English as hell is geenna in the Greek(“Gehenna”). Geenna is a place name of a ravine or valley on the south side of Jerusalem. During Old Testament times it was a place where pagan sacrifices by fire were made – including infant sacrifice to the god Molech.
During King Josiah’s reform the idols would have been destroyed. In fact the valley may have been used as a rubbish dump during that time. During the time of James geenna had come to mean a place of fiery punishment and corruption. And if the Temple mount as the highest point in Jerusalem represented or illustrated the closest place to the presence of the Lord God then Gehenna as the lowest point in Jerusalem would have also have had illustrative potential to the listeners.
During King Josiah’s reform the idols would have been destroyed. Tradition holds that the valley was used as a rubbish dump after that time. And just as I remember the stench of that rubbish dump in the Philippines so I can also easily imagine the stench of all sorts of refuse rotting and covering the valley in a terrible stench. By time we reach the days of James geenna had come to mean a place of fiery punishment and corruption.
Under the mastery of sin our tongue is a traitor to the one who created it. It spreads the fire and corruption of defilement, of all that is detestable.
And if the Temple mount as the highest geographical point in Jerusalem represented or illustrated the closest place to the presence of the Lord God then Gehenna as the lowest point in Jerusalem and set outside that ‘city of God’ would have also have had illustrative potential to the listeners.
In this fuller understanding of the word we can say that the tongue has become destructive by corruption. And this points us to our hope.
Under the mastery of sin our tongue is a traitor to the one who created it. It spreads the fire and corruption of defilement, of all that is detestable.
The Hope
In this fuller understanding of the word we can say that the tongue has become destructive by corruption. And this points us to our hope.
Our hope is this: In the beginning when God finished His work of creation he observed all that He had created and He declared it very good. The mountains were very good. The flowers were very good. And we, mankind, made in His image were very good. Our ability for speech was very good.

The Hope

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God sin came into the world. Corruption occurred. And all since Adam have been born into sin, born with a sinful nature.
Our hope is this: In the beginning when God finished His work of creation he observed all that He had created and He declared it very good. The mountains were very good. The flowers were very good. And we, mankind, made in His image were very good. Our ability for speech was very good.
AND YET BECAUSE OF CHRIST WE CAN BE FREE FROM SIN! IN CHRIST SIN IS NO LONGER OUR MASTER! That which has been corrupted can also be redeemed, made pure again, restored to God’s original purpose.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God sin came into the world. Corruption occurred. And all since Adam have been born into sin, born with a sinful nature.
Heartbeat, our tongues, our speech has the potential for great harm yes. But it even more so has the potential for great blessing! For healing! For encouragement! For lifting up! For energizing!
AND YET BECAUSE OF CHRIST YOU AND I CAN BE FREE FROM SIN! IN CHRIST SIN IS NO LONGER OUR MASTER! That which has been corrupted can also be redeemed, made pure again, and restored to God’s original purpose.
says “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Heartbeat, our tongues, our speech has the potential for great harm yes. But it also has the potential for great blessing! For healing! For encouragement! For lifting up! For energizing!
I’ve experienced this many times and I hope many of you have also. When I’ve been down, been depressed, going through difficult times, often a friend has spoken some simple word of encouragement that has really helped to cheer me up and get me through whatever difficulty I was facing.
says “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
There are many hurts in life. And yet if we make Jesus Lord of our tongues then we can see healing, joy, and peace come into the lives of those around us.
I’ve experienced this many times and I hope many of you have also. When I’ve been down, been depressed, going through difficult times, often a friend has spoken some simple word of encouragement that has really helped to cheer me up and get me through that tough time.
Power in the Audible Word
There are many hurts in life. And yet if we make Jesus Lord of our tongues then we can see healing, joy, and peace come into the lives of those around us.
Speech is powerful and not just in speaking to others. Heartbeat, there is a special power in spoken, audible prayer. There’s nothing magical about it of course. But what we hear influences us. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that children who are repeatedly told they are worthless and criticized will often struggle with issues of self-worth even into adulthood. Some of you here might even have been raised in such an environment. Likewise, those children who are repeatedly told that they are extra special often are seen to be more successful in life with accompanying high levels of self-confidence.

Power in the Audible Word

When we speak out our prayers there is the potential for our faith to be reinforced and multiplied. Praying aloud that God IS ALMIGHTY, that He IS in control, that He DOES care, that He DOES NOT forget, that He HAS forgiven helps build our faith. Our certainty of these truths grow as we proclaim it out loud. Many will struggle with mentally agreeing with truths but not really believing it in their hearts. Repeated audible prayer will take those truths and begin to saturate your heart with them. Your confidence in the Lord will grow and grow.
Speech is powerful and not just in speaking to others. Heartbeat, there is a special power in spoken, audible prayer. There’s nothing magical about it of course. But what we hear influences us. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that children who are repeatedly told they are worthless and criticized will often struggle with issues of self-worth even into adulthood. Likewise, those children who are repeatedly told that they are extra special often are seen to be over-achievers with accompanying high levels of self-confidence.
Heartbeat let me strongly encourage you to find time and space to pray out loud daily.
When we speak out our prayers aloud there is the potential for our faith to be reinforced and multiplied. Praying aloud that God IS ALMIGHTY, that He IS in control, that He DOES care, that He DOES NOT forget, that He HAS forgiven helps build our faith. Our certainty of these truths grow as we proclaim it out loud. Many of us might struggle with mentally agreeing with truths but not really believing it in their hearts. Repeated audible prayer will take those truths and begin to saturate your heart with them. Your confidence in the Lord will grow and grow.
There is great power in speech.
Heartbeat let me strongly encourage you to find time and space to pray out loud daily.
CONCLUSION:

CONCLUSION:

In the end we don’t need to change our tongues, our speech. That’s not going to work. A fig tree will never ever bear olives.
James concludes this passage like this:
We our hearts to be changed. We need to surrender fully to the Lord. And He will remove the hate in the heart that come out as spoken curses. He will remove the envy, the bitterness, the jealousy. He will change our source. He will make us a fresh water spring. And out of our mouths will naturally go forth blessings. Encouragements. Compassion. Words of life.
“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My borthers, these things ought not to be so. 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.” ()
Our tongue is a traitor only as long as our heart is a traitor to God. We must surrender to God. We must surrender.
However in the end it’s not our tongues, our speech that need to change. That’s not going to work. A fig tree will never ever bear olives.
When our faith becomes a living faith then we will naturally speak life giving words.
It’s our hearts that need to be changed. We must surrender ourselves fully to the Lord. Then He will remove the hate in our hearts that come out as spoken curses. He will remove the envy, the bitterness, the jealousy. He will change our source. Our hardened hearts will be replaced with soft sensitive hearts. He will make us a fresh water spring. And out of our mouths will naturally go forth blessings. Encouragements. Compassion. Words of life.
Jesus be the Lord of my tongue. Jesus be the Lord of my heart.
Our tongue is a traitor only as long as our heart is a traitor to God. We must surrender to God. We must surrender. Only He can tame our tongues.
Let’s pray.
When our faith becomes a living faith then we will naturally speak life giving words.
Jesus be the Lord of my tongue. Jesus be the Lord of my heart.
Let’s pray.
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