Summary: This message focuses on controlling the big fish in the mouth called the tongue.
It seems that lately you can’t hardly turn on the television without hearing about some new development in the moral decay of the Catholic church. More and more accusations are being hurled at priest regarding sexual misconduct. In no way shape or form am I defending what these priest allegedly did, but every time I hear of these things, my heart breaks in two. The reason being is because the eyes of the world are watching, and perhaps thinking, “I told you that the church is nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.”
This morning I want to bring your attention to another matter that is plaguing the church of the Living God. One that hasn’t popped up as of late, but has been around since the foundation of the church. What’s the problem? The inability for God’s people to tame their tongue. You may be asking yourself, “How does that compare to what’s going on within the Catholic church?” Because the eyes and ears of the ungodly are watching and listening. They are hearing good Christian people verbally lash one another all the while wondering, “If I was in that church, would they talk about me like that?”
Someone coined the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Whoever said that could have never been more wrong. Broken bones heal much quicker than the wounds left by an out of control tongue. I know people to this day, and there may those sitting in this room this morning, who are still suffering from the aftermath of a tongue lashing. When Dr. Tim Dailey was here with us, he and I sat down for coffee on afternoon, and he told me that some of the most encouraging words he’d ever heard came from Christian people. Then he went on to say that some of the most hurtful words ever spoken against him came from good Christian people.
You see, our tongue can either burn the Kingdom of God, or it can build it. Simply by what comes out of our mouths can destroy what God is trying to accomplish in and through a ministry, or it can build it. So this morning I want to ask you, “Is your tongue productive or destructive?”
Our Scripture text this morning comes from the book of James. The book of James’ theme has been labeled by many scholars and theologians as “practical Christian living.” James speaks more about the tongue than any other book in the Bible. If James is truly a book for practical Christian living, then there must be something essential about the tongue and living an effective Christian life.
Read James 3:2-10
When God created man, He gave us two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and one mouth which contains one big fish; the tongue. The eyes, ears and nostrils help make us aware of our surroundings. They are what we utilize to observe our world, and our tongue is what we use to comment on those surroundings. Could it be that God wants us, by design, to observe twice as much as we speak? I don’t know, but it is something to think about.
Anyway, God has given us the power of the spoken word. And I believe that is why many people today are in bondage. The sense of conflict that they experience can be traced back to their tongues. What do you mean? Well, the Bible clearly teaches a principle of sowing and reaping. If you sow corn, you will reap corn. If you sow black-eyed peas, you will reap black-eyed peas. If you sow words of destruction, you will reap destruction. If you sow words of life, you will reap life.
There is power in the spoken word. It will be your tongue that will shape your character. There are Christian people that I know who are always negative. They have nothing positive to say. Their demeanor, or the way they carry themselves, reflects this. Please get this in your spirit, a person will eventually get what his or her mouth says. If you say, “I can”, then you will. If you say, “I cannot”, then you will not be able to do whatever you set out to do. If you talk negatively, then you will get negative results because your words create a negative environment, which will produce negative results. And the opposite is true.
Try this experiment. For the next 48 hours, determine within yourself that you will speak only positive and hopeful things about your job, your children, your spouse, your health, your future, anything and everything that effects your life. It may be difficult at first, but see what type of results you get.
As I said before, your tongue will reflect your true character. Your words will reveal the real you. In fact James again addresses this issue for those who consider themselves “religious”. In James 1:26, he says, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are just fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” It is interesting that the word for “religious” in the Greek actually translates as “fearing and worshipping God”. So in essence James is saying, if you claim to fear and worship God and don’t control your tongue, you are kidding yourself and your worship is worthless. We find later in chapter 3 why. The same tongue blesses or worships God, and then turns around and lashes a brother or sister in Christ. The next statement I believe comes from the heart of God. “These things should not be so”. The reason being is because by doing so, we are not reflecting the true heart and nature of God to the lost.