There was a happy little family, living in a small town in North Dakota, even though the young mother had not been entirely well since the birth of her second baby. But each evening the neighbours were aware of a warmth in their hearts when they would see the husband and father being met at the gate by his wife and two small children. There was laughter in the evening too, and when the weather was nice father and children would romp together on the back lawn while mother looked on with happy smiles. Then one day a village gossip started a story, saying that (the father) was being unfaithful to his wife, a story entirely without foundation. But it eventually came to the ears of the young wife, and it was more than she could bear. Reasons lefts its throne, and that night when her husband came home there was no one to meet him at the gate, no laughter in the house, no fragrant aroma coming from the kitchen, only coldness and something that chilled his heart with fear. And down in the basement he found the three of them hanging from a beam. Sick and in despair, the young mother had taken the lives of her two children, and her own. In the days that followed, the truth of what had happened came out, a gossip’s tongue, an untrue story, a terrible tragedy.
John MacArthur says “the tongue is YOU in a unique way. It is a tattletale that tells on the heart and discloses the real person. Not only that, but misuse of the tongue is perhaps the easiest way to sin. There are some sins that an individual may not be able to commit simply because he does not have the opportunity. But there are limits to what one can say, no built-in restraints or boundaries.
IN SCRIPTURE THE TONGUE IS VARIOUSLY DESCRIBED AS...
See the tongue is a great concern for James and it should be for us today! The tongue is capable of 2 things! It can be used to build up............... AND.................It can be used to tear down! JAMES SAID THIS IN THE BEGINNING OF HIS LETTER ….“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4. So here is another test that James gives us to test our skill to taming the tongue. I HAVE 2 QUESTIONS FOR US THIS MORNING! Are you displaying a proper us of the tongue according to what God expects from each and every one of us? Are you always using your tongue to do evil which is what Satan wants? The tongues capability to cause harm not only to ourselves, but to those who are around us!
THE CHRISTIAN TONGUE IS CAPABLE OF CORRUPTION (v6-v8)
James says the tongue is like a fire! (v6) Those who misuse the tongue are guilty of spiritual arson! A mere spark from an ill-spoken word can produce a firestorm that can cause so much damage and devastation to whatever it touches. In October 8, 1871, poor Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over the lantern as she was being milked, starting the great Chicago Fire. That disaster blackened three and one half miles of the city, destroying over 17,500 buildings and left 125 000 people homeless. The fire lasted two days and took 300 people’s lives. James is reminding us that there is great destructive power in the tongue. James uses the expression “fire” to help us understand the power of the tongue. The tongue is capable to reproduce itself in an almost unlimited way as long as it has fuel to burn...A wicked tongue corrupts the whole person. Why didn’t James us the word picture of water?...........Because water causes a lot of damage as well! Water cannot multiply....when it is poured out; no matter where it goes or what it’s poured on...... it never expands into a flood. But FIRE feeds on itself...if there is sufficient flammable material and enough oxygen to sustain combustion, it will burn on indefinitely. Now put that in the context of this part of James letter! Is your fire still going or has it been put out? Is your tongue being used for evil?
LET’S ALL OF US.........TAKE THE TEST THIS MORNING!
IS IT BEING USED TO GOSSIP?
Prov 16:27-28 “A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire. A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
IS IT BEING USED FOR COMPLAINING?
Num 21:4-5 “From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food."
IS IT BEING USED FOR SELFISH GAIN?
2 Tim 3:1-5 “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
IS IT BEING USED FOR DISHONESTY?
Col 3:8-10 “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,”
IS IT BEING USED FOR PERVERSE TALK?
Prov 10:31-32 “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, But the perverse tongue will be cut out. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked what is perverse.”
IS IT BEING USED FOR BLASPHEMING GOD?
Acts 13:44-45 “On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming (defame, insult, speak evil) they opposed the things spoken by Paul.”
We MUST always be cautious of our tongue. Especially how we are to use it! Why? Listen to this profound warning by Jesus himself. Matt 12:36-37 “But I say to you that for every idle (inactive, useless) word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." The tongue is evil and full of wickedness and untameable by man! (v8). We must have disciplined lives with the leading of the Holy Spirit....because it’s only by the help of God anyone of as are able to tame the tongue. We must be genuine in our speech not hypocritical (fake, two faced)........ when we are at certain places or around certain people! (v9-v12)
DO YOU DISPLAY ANY OR MANY OF THESE CHARACTERISTICS? If you do, you need to check to see where you stand in the Lord Jesus Christ! Why I say that? Because the Genuine believer will not contradict his or her profession of faith........................... by regular use of unwholesome words. As Jesus said in Matt 12:33 "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. SO WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TONGUE? WHY DOES IT GET SO MUCH ATTENTION IN THE BIBLE?
Because it is suppose to be used for:
Communicating true Biblical Love
THE CHRISTIAN TONGUE IS INTENDED FOR EDIFICATION (v10-v12)
We are to edify one another. Edify (means) “the act of building" ("to build") the promotion of spiritual growth. As Paul said to the church in Ephesus “from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Eph 4:16. Now put that definition of edification into the context of James chapter 3....we see! The tongue must be used for the purpose of good……..not evil. We must bridle our tongues as James said in (v2). Bridle (means) "to lead by a bridle, to hold in check, restrain;" it is used metaphorically of the tongue and of the body. WE MUST USE IT FOR GOOD........How do I know it’s being used for good?
IS IT BEING USED FOR PRAISING GOD?
(Heb 13:15) Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.
IS IT BEING USED FOR SHARING THE GOSPEL?
Matt 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
IS IT BEING USED TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS?
(1 Thess 5:12-15) We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
IS IT BEING USED TO COMMUNICATE LOVE?
Eph 4:14-15 “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.”
IS IT BEING USED FOR GENUINE PRAYER?
(1Peter 3:12) For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
If anyone who knew what the tongue was capable of.........Peter is an expert in this area! The tongue is small and is capable of so much! May we always use it, for what it was intended for...........Bringing Glory to the One that saved us from the evil one! We are to look to God and His sovereign Power in help to overcome to tame the tongue. We must live disciplined lives under the control of the Holy Spirit. God gave us the ability for a new redeemed holy speech to speak ONLY that which is.............HOLY AND GOOD. As Paul said “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Col 4:6. A HATEFUL HEART is an unconverted heart and it CANNOT and WILL NOT produce loving words or works. A LOVING HEART is a regenerated heart and it CANNOT and WILL NOT produce hateful words or works. In Matt 7:18 we read "A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit." HOW DO WE ANSWER THE 2 QUESTION MENTIONED EARLIER? Are you displaying proper us of the tongue? Are you always using your tongue to do evil? Jesus went on to say in Matt 7:19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire Thus you will recognize them by their fruits....” Can you leave here today with confidence that your tongue is being bridled by the Power of the Holy Spirit. DO WE HAVE A TONGUE THAT IS BITTER LIKE SALT WATER? DO YOU HAVE A TONGUE THAT IS PURE LIKE FRESH WATER?