Have you ever experienced the consequences of words spoken in haste or anger? Our tongues have immense power, capable of building up or tearing down relationships. In the book of James, we are given practical wisdom on taming our tongues. Today, we will explore seven key points to help us control our speech and build healthy relationships.
I. Point 1: The Power of the Tongue
A. 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!
B. Explanation: Our tongues may be a small part of our body, but they hold great power. Just as a tiny spark can set a forest ablaze, our words can ignite conflicts and spread hurtful rumors.
- A great speech can influence people to do great or evil things.
- Great words can move someone in the right or wrong direction.
- Our boasting, bragging, or arrogance can be a dangerous thing.
Illustration: The Frog and the Birds – Bragging can cost you.
C. We can destroy by being a verbal arsonist.
- A tiny spark can start a great fire. a. Proverbs 16:27 – An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire. b. Proverbs 26:21 – As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
- Our mouths are on fire – Every time we speak, a spark can fly out and ignite various aspects of our lives.
D. James is trying to get us to understand our mouths are on fire.
- Every time we speak, we need to be aware that a spark can fly out and ignite our lives, families, friends, and more.
- Bitterness sours our speech.
E. There is a world of wickedness trying to escape our mouth.
- Psalm 141:3 – Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.
G. When our words are destructive, it will affect everything and everyone in our life.
- If not dealt with, it can become a great fire that is hurtful to many.
H. It can set your whole life on fire.
- Your words affect every area and moment of your life.
- Fire spreads everywhere – sparks constantly fly out of our mouths, spraying in every direction.
- Before long, one of those tiny sparks grows, spreads, and your whole life is on fire.
NOTE: Our mouths and the words they produce can be like a spreading fire that can break out at any moment.
NOTE: James goes on to say that our mouths are “full of deadly poison.”
The Psalmist had been bitten by the words of others and said, “They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under their lips. Selah.”
II. Point 2: Wisdom in Silence
A. James 1:19 – Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
B. Explanation: James encourages us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. By restraining our tongues, we create space to understand others better and respond with wisdom and compassion.
III. Point 3: Speak Words of Encouragement
A. James 3:10 – Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
B. Explanation: Our words have the ability to uplift and edify others. By choosing to speak kind and encouraging words, we not only impact those around us positively, but we also set an example for others to follow.
IV. Point 4: Avoid Gossip and Slander
A. James 4:11-12 – Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
B. Explanation: Gossip and slander can destroy relationships and tarnish reputations. As believers, we are called to guard our tongues from spreading harmful words and instead, seek to bring reconciliation and healing.
V. Point 5: Gracious Speech in Conflict
A. James 3:17 – But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
B. Explanation: During conflicts, it is essential to choose our words wisely. Cultivating a heart filled with wisdom and understanding enables us to speak words of peace and restoration instead of words that escalate tensions.
VI. Point 6: Honesty and Integrity in Speech
A. James 5:12 – But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
B. Explanation: James reminds us to let our “yes” be yes and our “no” be no. Being truthful and reliable in our speech demonstrates our integrity and builds trust in our relationships.
VII. Point 7: Seek God’s Help and Transformation
A. James 4:8 – Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
B. Explanation: Taming our tongues requires God’s help and transforming power. By seeking Him in prayer and surrendering our speech to Him, we can experience growth and change in this area.
When you hear and understand what James is telling us then it’s not surprising to read Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue can bring death or life.”
James reminds us in verse 2 that “we all make many mistakes.” You and the people in your life are going to make mistakes. They are going to say things they shouldn’t. They are going to say things that hurt, offend, and annoy. Their immaturity will come out of their mouth eventually. It’s just going to happen.
The question for you is, how will you respond?
- First, place a guard over your mouth. Let’s pray Psalm 141:3 over our lives, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips!”
- Be careful with what you say. Proverbs 21:23 says, “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.”
- Finally, make allowance for each other’s faults. Colossians 3:13 says, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
In conclusion, let us remember that our words hold the power to impact lives. May we commit to taming our tongues and using our words to bring life.