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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Controlling Our Tongues

Koinonia Bible Study
James Chapter 3
October 10th
Caree Connolly

We have been learning so much from the Book of James with the fundamental tools needed to mature as a woman of Christ. The first chapter of James taught us that we need to find joy within the tests and trials we face.  

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer

We know from James 1:5 that asking for wisdom of God is an important part of our growth. 

Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

We learned that it is important to not just be hearers of the Word, but also doers. As like with a garden. If we do nothing with it, weeds can grow. Or a pond, that develops moss. A garden must be tilled, and a pond, tended.

James warns us in chapter 2 of the pitfalls of showing favoritism and being a judge of others. That showing favoritism is disobeying the law and commits a sin. We saw that the 'Royal Law' “Love thy neighbor as yourself” is a tool that God gave us not only in the old testament, but is reenforced by Jesus in the new testament. 

James reminded us believers in James 1:19 how being 'Slow to speak' is eccentail. Our tongues can get us in to trouble, and we will study more on that in the 3rd chapter of James.

Faith controls the Tongue
James 3:1
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive stricter judgment. NKJV

James saw how many where trying to be teachers and spiritual leaders, not understanding the tremendous responsibility and accountability of teaching God's Word and thinking only of the authority factor. I wonder how many today are teaching, but don't have a clear knowledge of the scripture. Those who are teaching God's Word face a stricter punishment. In another KJV version, it uses the word 'condemnation, which means: to declare officially unfit for use and or also to pronounce judgment against.

In the Blue Letter Bible Commentary, Chuck Smith states that teaching the Word of God is an awesome responsibility. That is so true. If someone is not teaching correctly, and if any are led astray, those teaching are responsible for those led astray. The Webster's definition for 'Responsibility' : having to account for ones actions. Those who are teaching God's Word will have a lot to answer for.

James 3:2-4
For in many things we offend all. If  any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouth, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a  very small helm, wither soever the governor listeth.

James continues to expound on further responsibility. From the verse 2, {if any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man}, he's speaking of the mouth or tongue.
Teachers must practice what they teach; otherwise, their teaching is hypocrisy.

And since none of us are perfect, we probably all in some manner have offended someone in word. If we can control our tongue, we have better discipline over our whole body. This is the action of a mature christian.
Psalms 34:13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. And Matthew 12:34  for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by the thy words thou shalt be condemned.

James shows the connection with 'sins of the tongue' and 'sins of the whole body'.
The words we speak can lead to the deeds of the body.

In his commentary, Warren Wiersbe states that during World War 2, there were posters that read; Loose Lips   Sink Ships!  

Loose lips can also wreck lives. How often has a fight begun, due to a unguarded statement made? That statement made with that small tongue has forced the whole body into a defensive action.

James states in verses 3 and 4, that a ship can not steer without a rudder, and a horse needs a bit to control a horse. I don't know much about ships or boats, but I did have a horse when I was younger. She was not a very nice horse, and didn't cooperate unless she felt like it. She was only guided when the bit was in her mouth, and even than, it took a stronger hand than mine to direct her. Usually my dad or brother Phil. That goes as well, with a ship. Warren Wiersbe says that both the rudder and the bit need to be under control of a strong hand. An expert horseman can control his steed, and an experienced pilot can steer his vessel though rough waters.

When we have Jesus in control of our tongues, we don't need to worry or have fear of saying the wrong thing. David prayed in Psalm. 141: 3-4 Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil things.

James 3:5-6
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth  the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

It's an amazing and scary thought, the damage that the tongue can do in such a short time. James likens it to a fire. We've all seen what fire can do. We have to contain it within a fireplace, a wood stove, or a fire pit. But if one single spark gets out, it can burn down a house, or set a full forest fire.

Our tongue is contained within our mouth, but one small word can bring irreparable damage. Just like a fire.

Psalm 39: 3  My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: than spake I with my mouth. 

That was David speaking. He shows his fierce anger, and hot-tempered words in 1 Samuel 25. It also tells of Abigail's calm words that defused the action which almost occurred.

A fire can burn and hurt. My brothers and I used to run our hand or finger over a candle flame to see how hot it would get. Yes, the folly of youth.
Words can burn and hurt too. There's that old saying; Sticks and Stones can break your bones, but Words can never hurt you.  So Not True!

Words can destroy souls too. The wrong teachings can send someone into eternity without Christ. So our words should be as it says in 1 Col. 4:6 Let your conversation be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer anyone. (NIV)

James 3:7-8
For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed by mankind: But the tongue can no man tame: it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

Our tongues were just likened to a fire that destroys. Now its similar to a dangerous animal. My cat, is domesticated. But she still has instincts that cause her stalk prey. Whether it be a fly, spider or even my feet. Warren Wiersbe spoke of traveling with his wife through a wildlife park. There were signs posted: DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CAR! And DO NOT OPEN YOUR WINDOW! The animals might have looked calm and peaceful, but still capable of doing great damage and killing.

This verse speaks of the fact that every living creature has in some way, been tamed. We see this everywhere: Sea World with great Killer Whale, Lions, Tigers, and Bears (oh my) performing in circus'. Birds that are taught to speak. Even snakes charmers in India.

We know though that one small seemingly simple organ, called our tongue can not be tamed. More to the point, James says it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Jesus says in Matthew 15:11 What goes in a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean', but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean'. (NIV) I don't generally use 'The Message', but it brought this verse into a more blunt statement. It 's not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up”.

Yes,  that sounds pretty gross. But it sure describes some of what comes out of the mouth. Television and even books shows the depravity of our language.

Matthew 15: 18-19 says But those things, which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication’s, thefts, false witness, blasphemes.

Doesn't speak well of our hearts, does it. In his Blue Letter Commentary, Chuck Smith says that the mouth is the voice piece of man. The man reveals what's inside of him by his tongue. Wow. Scary thought.

James 3: 9-12
Therewith bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt and fresh.

It must have been hard for James seeing the behavior of the believer during that time. Just as it's hard for us now. From verse 9, we bless God. That is always an awesome thing. I love our worship time at church, Or driving in my truck.  and sometimes just lying in bed at night, I'll have a song come to me. Great way to go to sleep.
But we see that James in verse 10, thet that same mouth can curse men.

The human nature is obviously complex. And our  tongue is the most complex organ. Most of the body can be guided or taught to behave properly. The tongue does what it wants. Like verse 8 said: No man can tame the tongue. That's the key though. We can't tame our own tongue. God can!  If we yield our spirit to God, He will do for us what we can't do on our own. To bring the tongue under control, we need to give God our tongues and hearts everyday asking Him to use us to be a blessing to others.

As like a fountain or fig tree, each one can't have something contrary to its true nature. A fig tree only produces figs not olives, or apples, or other fruit.  And a fresh water fountain can't bring up salt water.

Chuck Smith says that our tongues are a paradox. Which means: a statement that seems to conflict with common sense or to contradict itself but that may nevertheless be true.

James 3:13-17
Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom desendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish. For where is envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, than peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without  partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of  them that make peace.

James asks: who is a wise man?  Colossians 2:8 says Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after traditions of men, after rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

So, who is a wise man? We see how scientists, professors, and philosophers might claim to have vast amounts of knowledge, but do they have a wisdom to know God? They might have worldly wisdom. True wisdom though comes from God. We learned that from James 1:5 (if any lacks wisdom, let him ask of God).

The verses 14 and 15 describe man's wisdom. Ephesians 2:1-3 tells of the 3 enemies of the believer; the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Verse 15 uses the terms: earthly, sensual, and devilish. Co-inside pretty well, don't they.

Thankfully, we have verse 17 and 18 to bring us back to hope. The wisdom of God is pure, peaceable, and gentle. Full of mercy. And has good fruits.

Our christian walk is for sowing and reaping. We not only sow seeds to plant fruit, but we also sow fruit. We share the fruit of God with others, and they are fed and satisfied. They can than go out and share fruit too.

We learned from this chapter that tongue can cause destruction, and yet it is an instrument of praise. We saw that although we can't tame our tongues, God can.
And we learned that true wisdom comes from above. Man's wisdom does not.

As a ending scripture: Proverbs 3:13  Happy is a man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.

A good lesson for each of us.