We are moving up to part five (5) of the Book of James.
I have mentioned each time now that I am sure that you have figured out that James is a pretty simple and straight forward message. It doesn’t necessarily take anyone else to help you figure what the bottom line message is in each chapter. If we simply sit down and spend a little quality time with the Lord by asking Him to reveal what we need to understand in James, we will get it.
As I stated from the beginning that James is a power packed book on how to “live and do the Christian faith.” Yeah, I said that James is not only relevant to his day, but also today, and the future of all mankind. It is rock solid, period!
God speaks His Word through His servant, or Prophet as He did through Isaiah 55:11:
“My Word always accomplishes what I desire, and they’ll complete the assignment I gave them. My Word will never return to Me unfinished.” Therefore I believe we can expect that He will accomplish everything within us that He wants us to at this time in our lives.
James Chapter 3: “The Power Of Our Words”
3 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we will be judged more strictly. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect individual, able to control their entire body as well. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, then we control their entire bodies. 4 Or take a ship as an example. Though they are so large and driven by strong winds, they are steered by a tiny rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it makes great boasts. Think how only a small flame or spark can set a huge forest ablaze. 6 Our tongue is like fire! The tongue corrupts the whole body and sets the whole course of one’s life on fire—and is set on fire by hell.
7 For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued or has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no human being can subdue or tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God’s image. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. It should not be this way; my brothers and sisters. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water pour out from the same spring? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt water spring produce fresh water.
True Wisdom only comes from God
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good conduct, by deeds done in the gentleness and humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter jealousy and selfishness in your hearts, do not boast about it, lie, and deny the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come from heaven above but is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom from heaven above is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, gentle, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, sincere, and not hypocritical. 18 You can only develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. (GBB version)
Did you get the feeling that words are powerful? We tend to forget just how much power they can have over us and what we say to other people.
We have talked about this very subject many times over the years here in our K&N Chapel. It’s a subject that we humans have severe trouble with. Scripture clearly tells us that “out of the abundance of what is in our heart our mouth speaks.” Now, I don’t know about you but I all too often find my foot in my mouth, boots and all.
Our words have the power to produce life and death. Proverbs 18:21 says: “Words kill; words bring life; They’re either poison or fruit; you choose!”
Notice also that the tongue isn’t the storage area for our beliefs, thoughts, feelings and root of our words. It all is all from what our heart is full of. What is stored there is the hurts, pain, unbelief, bitterness, and have not been dealt with and allowed to fester and grow. But, we also can pack it full of love, forgiveness, patience, and positive. Then if our heart is full of good things there is nothing bad to overflow from the bucket first …or the abundance which is also the excess that runs over first.
Have you ever noticed that the doctor looks at your tongue to see what’s going on inside your body? Have you ever really reflected upon how the words of your mouth always reflect something deeper going on inside your heart?
God is adamant about the danger of this small organ that lives inside our mouth but has the greatness just like a small rudder controlling a ship as huge as an aircraft carrier or battleship or the tiny rudder on the tail of a giant B-52 bomber or 747 airliners. Having been in charge of one of these B-52 monsters in the Air Force; that analogy has great impact upon me…but at times it still fails to control me.
Stop and think about how God created the earth and all creation as He tells us in Genesis: He SPOKE it into being. (Genesis 1 verse 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24 …and all start with God Spoke, or Said …and things came into existence which had never been there before). When God speaks His words have a creative force. Then remember God created us In His Image. Now you get the idea how we have such creative power in our words
Let’s clarify the fact that we cannot speak tangible things into being like God can, and did, but we can speak intangible things like doubt, fear, division, contaminate how people think about one another, or they can create intangible things like healing, hope, good self image.
Our self image is created by a collection of all the words that are spoken to us and over us throughout our life.
- Think back in your life about words that affirmed you and instilled confidence in you.
- Think back in your life about words that stole your courage away and ripped you to shreds.
- Words were used to shut you down, discipline you or corral you by parents, siblings, and teachers.
- Sometimes it was cultural due to where we lived & sometimes it was a slander through sarcasm which sounded humorous but had a knife in it.
An example for me was wearing black (my favorite color) or wearing boots –which I still do both today). But growing up I got mocked about being out of style or “Do think you’re some sorta cowboy or something?” since I grew up in upstate New York by Lake Ontario. Even my love of racing was mocked back in high school days.
James says here that when we speak our words can be steeped in worldly wisdom, unspiritual, demonic, or they can be from the Wisdom of God. We get to choose.
Proverbs 12:18 says: “The words of reckless people pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Look at how James closes this subject in verses 7-12. He clearly emphasizes for us to look at the wisdom of the words coming out of our mouth. Is it from above or the pit of hell?
Let’s look at what makes our words so toxic or venomous sometimes. Words fit into the category of either truthful or un-truthful and either loving or unloving. Often they may be true but spoken in an unloving way and cut you down.
Truth is an interesting subject when you consider how Jesus dealt with it in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. It’s like our courts making you swear on a Bible. Will that actually make you the truth? Well, certainly not from what I have seen! So Jesus says in Matthew 5:37 about putting a stack of Bibles before our words to emphasize we are telling the truth: “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” In other words He is saying we are under oath to tell the truth already without all the hoop-de-la. There is NEVER a time we are not under oath!
Lies are manipulation when they are mixed with truth. For example “Hey, you’re looking good today” and you immediately wonder “okay, what do you want?” Timothy Keller says: “There are lies of gossip that make haters out of us: lies of advertisers that make money off of us: lies of politicians that make pawns of us.” Personally, in this election cycle I think that it is the first time in our history that nobody believes what anybody is saying! Behind all those words Mr. Keller is saying there is an agenda. They all want something from me. Partial truth mixed with lies to manipulate is twisted and from the pit.
I am sure that you have heard a politician or leader’s words captured when thinking their microphone was off. That all too often showed their real heart and how it conflicted with what they said in their speech. Well, with God; the mic. is ALWAYS on!!!
Look at what Christ Jesus has planned and expects from us as we grow up from children who don’t know any better about mixing truth and lies at a young age in order to get their way: Ephesians 4: 11-15 “11 So Christ Himself gave us the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip His people for good works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be immature like children, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ Jesus.”
There in verse 15 is the definition of a mature person: Someone who has learned to speak the truth in love. You see “truth without love is cruelty… and love without truth is just sentimentalism.” This plays out so much as we raise our kids. We have to correct wrong doing but often it’s painful to do so. But because we love them so much we have tell them the truth or they cannot change and just go wrong.
If we wrap our rebuke to people in truth and love together then we can follow the same path as Jesus who could speak rebuke with love to people so perfect that they accepted the rebuke because they felt sure that He loved them enough to even die for them. That’s what we need to learn how to do!
In conclusion let me say that we cannot “tame” our tongue. We can try going on a one hour, or one day, or whatever pledge to control ever word we speak or think we want to speak. It will not work …UNLESS…we deliberately invite the Holy Spirit into our lives and take control of our lives. Then daily we have to deliberately choose to yield to the Holy Spirit. Otherwise the battle with our tongue is a lost battle. We cannot win it or even do it. God never intended us to live without having the Holy Spirit to help us live.
So… Let’s close in prayer for personal change: Holy Spirit come! Help me quit blaming the damage I have done with my tongue on my race, ethnicity, my environment, or my upbringing and own brokenness. Lord, I have tried and cannot do this on my own. So, Lord, bring Your Holy Spirit into my life and help me begin the cleansing of my heart and become who You desire me to become. Thank You Lord.
You can find our Church On The Hill video recorded message on this subject by our home Pastors Bruce Stefanik and Jason Treadwell at:
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