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Watch Your Mouth

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Scripture

James 3:1–12 NASB95
1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. 3 Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4 Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.
James
James 1:19–20 NASB95
19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
Today, I want to talk to you about that little but powerful muscle that is inside of our mouths - that is THE TONGUE. So turn to your neighbor and say neighbor “Watch Your Mouth.”
James 1:19-20
Today, I want to talk to you about that little but powerful muscle that is inside of our mouths - that is THE TONGUE. So turn to your neighbor and say neighbor “Watch Your Mouth.”

Introduction

After a little research it was revealed that in 1984, British writer, actor, broadcaster, self-professed Word Person and Scrabble fanatic, Gyles Brandreth, came up with one estimate of the average amount of words that a person speaks in an entire lifetime. He said, on average we speak over 860 million words in our lifetime.
And so we could really wrap our minds around this number.
The average person, in their lifetime, speaks the equivalent of the entire 32-volume Encyclopedia Britannica (EB) 19.5 times.
The average person, in their lifetime, speaks the equivalent of the King James Bible (Old and New Testament) more than 1,110 times.
Now that was based on research done in 1984, way before the age of text messaging, smart phones and social media, where people avidly post words and post videos of themselves speaking multiple times a day. So I’m sure that number is probably a whole lot more today.
But the point is, that whether it be speaking verbally, texting, or posting a video on social media, we spend much of our lives using words.
And catch this. All 860 (plus) million words that we have said, texted and posted in our lifetimes, has been recorded by God and we will have to give an account for on the Day of Judgment.
It can encourage.
It can
One of the main themes of the book of James is that faith without works are dead (), which is what he just got finished saying in Chapter 2. And, here in Chapter 3, James concern about the tongue and the use of words
Jesus says this in Matthew 12:
Jesus says this:
Matthew 12:36–37 NASB95
36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
So wait, are you telling me that even though I went to the store and bought one of those screens to go on my phone to block other people from reading my text messages, that what I texted that person the other day when they got on my nerves has still been recorded by God?
YUP!
Are you telling me that every ill word that I said to my spouse or my significant other when we had an argument last week has been recorded by God?
YUP!
Are you telling me that every Snapchat video that I have sent to someone that is suppose to automatically delete within 24hrs has been recorded by God?
YUP!
Every word we have used, has been recorded by God and we will have to give an account for on the Day of Judgment.
GOD HEARS AND SEES OUR EVERY WORD.
As children, we learn at a very early age how to control our tongues. As a child, I wouldn’t dare say a cuss word, say the word “lie” or have certain conversations around my parents. I could be up in the front talking with some friends, using certain words and having certain conversations, but as soon as mom or dad came into the room, I became more aware of my words.
Here is the good news. The good news, is that every single one of us in here knows at some level how to control your tongue, because you did it or currently do it with you parents (Hopefully).
The problem is that when get older or when we are no longer around our parents, we forget that even behind closed doors, driving in cars and on our password protected smartphones, that God our Father is still in the room.
GOD HEARS AND SEES OUR EVERY WORD.
And God cares so much about our words because there is literally the power of life and death in our mouth. We have the power to encourage and to bless and to build, but we also have the power to discourage, curse, and destroy. It is by the words of God that the entire earth was created, and it is by the words of Adolf Hitler where 6 million Jews were killed. Words can cause someone to feel loved and words can cause someone to think about suicide.
WORDS HAVE POWER!
WORDS HAVE POWER!
And because they are so powerful, God inspired James, Jesus’ brother, to tell us just how powerful they can be.
And so today, James is going to help us understand four different reasons we need to be careful with our words and then he is going to teach us one thing we can do this week to help us be more careful with our words.

Four Reasons We Should Be Careful With Our Words

1. Words Can Disqualify Us (3:1).

The first reason James says we need to be careful with our words, is because our WORDS CAN DISQUALIFY US.
There is a game I like to play called Taboo. And in Taboo, the goal is to get your team to guess the word on your card without saying any of the Taboo words listed on the card. I literally have to control what I say, because if I don’t control what I say, I run the risk of being disqualified.
Likewise, in this game we call life, we have to watch what we say, lest we be disqualified.
In verse 1, James says not all of you should be teachers. And as you think about the word teacher, I want you to substitute it for the word leader or person of influence.
And James is saying not all of you should be teachers, not because you don’t have the gift of a teacher, but simply because you can’t control your mouth. Because as a teacher, there are going to be some times where people will disagree and want to argue with you. And back in that day, being a teacher meant that there are going to be some times where people are going to want to persecute and kill you for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And in the context of this passage, James is saying if you can’t control what you say when people talk about you, when people disagree with you, when people want to argue with you, and even when people are literally trying to kill you, you need not apply. If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the fire.
Because, as James says, people who have the influence of a teacher will be highly criticized.
When you are in a position of influence, people are not going to care about what THEY said, or what THEY did, but what they are going to remember is what you said when you are in the position of a leader.
And this is what got me, there are some people that James is speaking to, that might actually make great teachers, but simply because they can’t control their mouths, it would not be good for them to be a teacher for the Kingdom of God.
Did you know that you could have the skills of a leader, have the experience of a leader, the qualifications of a leader, and even the training and degrees of a leader, but simply because you don’t know how to speak to people and control what you say when things get heated, none of that matters?
All that I’m trying to get you to understand in this point is that WORDS CAN DISQUALIFY YOU.

2. Words Can Guide Our Lives (3:2-4).

The second reason James says we need to be careful with our words, is because our WORDS CAN GUIDE OUR LIVES.
In verses 2-4, James give us two images to describe the power of our tongue. The first image is that of a bit in a horses mouth. A bit is something that goes into a horses mouth that allows the rider to direct where it goes. The second image is that of a small rudder on a ship. The rudder is the small fan-like object at the back of the ship that can steer the ship wherever the captain wants to take it.
In both images, both the bit and the rudder are small, but they have the ability to guide something much larger than what they are.
Likewise, though small, our tongues and our words have the ability to guide our lives.
It was words that caused Adam and Eve to eat from the forbidden fruit, for the serpent said “Did God really say you couldn’t eat from any tree in the garden? Surely you won’t die.”
It is the words found in a rumor that can cause someone to leave school.
It is the words found on mission statements and in bylaws that will guide a business, a church or a nonprofit.
It is words like “Please” and “Thank you” that will open up doors.
And what I want to bring you attention to, is not so much the bit in the horses mouth or the rudder attached to the ship, but the rider that controls the bit and the captain that controls the rudder.
It is words found in slogans like Nike’s “Just Do It” that causes some people to want to just get up and go for a run.
And it is the Word of God that is spoken that has the power to change the way a person feels and cause them to shout for joy in the midst of pain and sorrow. Let you be going through something, and watch something change on the inside when the preacher says “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.” Or let you be at a funeral, and watch emotions begin to shift when the preacher says “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Words, though small, have the power to guide your life.
And what I want to pay close attention to, is not so much the bit in the horses mouth or the rudder attached to the ship, but the rider that controls the bit and the captain that controls the rudder.
Who is the rider and the captain that controls that bit and rudder we call a tongue in your mouth?
It is the words found on mission statements and in bylaws that will guide a business, a church or a nonprofit.
Because if its you, you will never be able to direct your life in the way it should go. But if you want to be on the journey that God has planned for your life, then you must surrender your tongue to Jesus.
And I wish I had about

3. Words Can Destroy Community (3:5-6).

The third reason James says we need to be careful with our words, is because our WORDS CAN DESTROY COMMUNITY. And by community, I mean bonds between people.

3. Words Can Destroy Community (3:5-6).

In verses 5-6, James gives us a third image of the tongue and he compares the tongue to that of a small fire that has the power to burn down an entire forest.
And living in California, we know how detrimental a forest fire can be. For it can destroy homes and even lives. We are preached to by Smokey the Bear, reminding us on billboards and commercials that “Only You Can Put Out Forest Fires.”
And it is ONLY YOU, THROUGH THE POWER OF JESUS. THAT CAN CONTROL THE FLAME IN YOUR MOUTH.
For if we are not careful with our words we can start...
Fires in our friendships.
Fires in our relationships.
Fires in marriages.
Fires at work.
Fires at school.
And fires in the church.
And the thing about fires, is that once you have started it, you may be able to put the fire out, but you can’t reverse the damage.
Anybody ever said something to someone that you wished you didn’t say, and even though you apologized you still have to live with the consequences?
Words have the power to destroy community.
And inside of a church setting like this, people who do not know how to control their mouths, will not only destroy community, but they will literally prevent future community from being built.
You ever been in a small group, a Sunday School class, or a Bible study, and wanted to open up about something, but because somebody was in the class that was known to gossip you kept your comments to yourself? And so not only did the presence of that person stop you from sharing whatever you wanted to share, but it also stopped 2-3 other people from being blessed by what you was getting ready to share.
You ever been in a small group, a Sunday School class, or a Bible study, and wanted to open up about something, but because somebody was in the class that was known to gossip you kept your comments to yourself? And so not only did the presence of that person stop you from sharing whatever you wanted to share, but it also stopped 2-3 other people from being blessed by what you was getting ready to share.
Just as a small flame can destroy a community of trees, so can words destroy community.

4. Words Show What Is In Your Heart (3:11-12).

The fourth reason James says we need to be careful with our words, is because our WORDS SHOW WHAT IS IN YOUR HEART.
Jesus put it this way, out of the abundance of your heart, the mouth speaks.
In verses 9-10, James says that with this tongue people bless God and at the same time curse our brothers and sisters in the faith. He says, with this tongue, people sing praises to God on Sunday, just to turn around and cuss somebody out on Monday.
And James says, this should not be.
And so in his response to this, in verses 11-12, he starts to ask some rhetorical questions that we should know the answers to.
He says can a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?

aCan a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce 1fresh.

Can a fig tree produce olives or a vine produce figs?
And the answer to those questions is “No.”
What James is trying to get us to understand is that whatever is coming out of you, must be in you.
In other words, whatever is coming out of you, must be in you.
IF fig trees produce figs.
Orange trees produce oranges.
Apple trees produce apples.
Lemon trees produce lemons.
Vines produce grapes.
THEN Christians who say they are filled with Holy Spirit, should speak like it.
Words reveal who we really are, because whatever comes out of you must be in you.
Turn to your neighbor and say “Neighbor, what do your words have to say about your heart?”

One Thing We Can Apply This Week

Jesus says it is out of the heart, the mouth speaks.
It is important that we be careful with our words because:
Words Can Disqualify Us.
Words Can Guide Our Lives.,

One Thing We Can Apply This Week

Words Can Destroy Community.
Words Can Show Us What Is In Our Heart.
And so the question is what can we do this week to help us be more careful with our words?
Before you speak, slow down (1:19-20).
says
James 1:19–20e NASB95
19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
James 1:19:20
We can preach an entire series or sermon on this one verse, but I want to draw our attention to the things in which James tells us slow down on. He says be slow to speak and be slow to get angry.
Be Slow to Speak
It is important to be slow to speak because being slow to speak sets the stage for being quick to listen. You can’t listen until you have mastered being slow to speak. And it is always good to be slow to speak because it is then when you might be able to obtain a different perspective on a situation.
You ever been in a conversation or perhaps a meeting with someone that was frustrated and was going on a rant about something, but the reason why they were so frustrated was because there was a piece of information they didn’t know?
I’ve been that person and you never want to be that person. Because when you’re that person, there is somebody in the room just waiting to pop your bubble. And then all of a sudden your pride gets hurts , your ego starts rise up and then you start speaking out of the side of your mouth, trying to say anything that could protect your pride.
Now you just making yourself look more foolish and it could have all been avoided had you just been slow to speak.
Slow to Get Angry
But not only are we called to be slow to speak, but we are called to be slow to get angry. You can’t be so quick to react, but instead you have to place your anger at Lord’s feet and begin to ask yourself the same question that God asked Cain before he killed his brother: “Why are you angry?” Why is it that you feel the way you feel?
Because if you don’t slow down with your anger then as God told Cain, sin is crouching at your door and it wants you cuss, it wants you to yell, it wants you to call them out of their name, it wants you say something that will hit below the belt, but you must overcome it.
For when you are quick to get angry, it is as if anger is now controlling the bit in your mouth and the rudder on your ship. And if anger is controlling the bit in your mouth and the rudder on you ship, then that means that instead of God guiding your next move, anger is guiding your next move.
And when anger is in the driver seat, James says such anger will not lead to the righteousness of God.
And I know it’s hard, but can I just remind you that we have a great example in Jesus who was slow to speak and slow to get angry. Just start reading at Matthew 26.
It’s Thursday. Jesus is having the Lord’s Supper with his disciples and he says that one of you are going to betray me. They ask who is it? And Jesus says it is the one that dips his hand into the bowl with me. And had it been you or me, we may have just taken that bowl and slammed it right in Judas’ face, but Jesus doesn’t do that because he is slow to speak and and slow to get angry.
Later on that day, Jesus tells Peter, another a disciple, that he will deny three times. And had it been you are me, we may have wanted to give him the holy finger and sent him about his way.
It’s Friday morning, and Judas comes along to betray Jesus with the chief priests and a crowd. And to single which one was Jesus, Judas went over to Jesus to kiss him on the cheek. And had it been you or me, we may had given Judas one could punch to the face. But because Jesus is slow to speak and slow to get angry, Jesus calls Judas friend and tells him to do what he has come to do.
The crowd begins to seize Jesus, but the text says one of his disciples, who we know to be quick tempered Peter, took out his sword and cut one the men’s ear off. And had it been you or me, we probably would been rooting Peter on telling him to cut the other ear off too. But because Jesus is slow to speak and slow to get angry, Jesus picks the man’s ear off the ground, places it to the man’s face and heals him.
And he turns to Peter and says, “I know you are trying to help, but don’t get it twisted. I don’t need your sword. In case you didn’t know, I have twelve legions of angels at my disposal that can wipe every single one of these people out. So don’t take my meekness for weakness. I just have some place to go and this is all a part of the plan.
And so the crowd takes Jesus.
They slapped him, but Jesus was slow to speak.
They punched him, but Jesus was slow to speak.
They spat on him, but Jesus was slow to speak.
They mocked him, but Jesus was slow to speak.
They made him carry a heavy cross, but Jesus was slow to speak.
They whipped him, but Jesus was slow to speak.
They nailed him to a cross, but Jesus was slow to speak.
They put a crown of thorns on his head, but Jesus was slow to speak.
They pierced him in his side, but Jesus was slow to speak.
And last time I checked, none of us in here has been betrayed, denied, slapped, punched, spat on, whipped, mocked, speared, and nailed to a cross all within 24 hours. And if Jesus could watch his mouth in all of that, surely you and I can watch our mouth this week.
Say, “Neighbor, Watch Your Mouth.”
Matthew 12:37 NASB95
37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
It can
They Can
Phone, social media
Example - Jesus didn’t say a mumbling word.
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