Please take time today to join us in praying for the unreached people group featured on the left below. If you are interested in learning more about one of the nations they live in, you can explore statistics and more at the link on the right below. We also want to encourage you to open your Bible and join us as we learn from God's Word below. Please pray, read, mediate, and share!
James the half brother of Jesus writes this letter to the Jewish believers who have been scattered after Stephen’s martyrdom in Acts 7 and during Herod’s persecution in Acts 12. In this letter he is basically providing these early believers with a practical manual of the Christian life. James devotes a major portion of his letter to the tongue. He actually mentions the tongue in every chapter of his letter (1:26, 2:12, 3:1-12, 4:11, and 5:12). James wants us in James 3:1-12 to guard our tongue, so he identifies at least 3 different powers that the tongue of the human body possesses that we will be considering this week.
I. The Power to Direct v1-4
He wrote, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” James begins by giving a warning to those who teach the word of God. Those who teach the word give direction to those who sit under them. They shape the minds and hearts of their hearers in either positive or negative ways, therefore they should be extremely cautious as to what they are saying before them. Teachers are in special danger of misusing their tongues and thus having a stricter judgment by God. Teachers must be diligent to rightly divide the Word of God. According to 2 Timothy 2:15, we must “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Obviously it is important to watch and guard our tongues when we are directly directing others through teaching the Scripture. However, we should also guard our tongues when we are indirectly directing others in normal conversation.
James goes on in verse 2 to write, “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man…”. This word perfect can mean, “without any flaw or error.” It can also mean complete and mature. It is used this way in James 1:4: “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” A purified and mature heart is the source of righteous speech. What one says or does not say gives evidence of a purified and mature heart. In the latter part of verse 2 James goes on to say, “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” In James 1:26 he writes, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” James says that a Christian who can bridle his tongue is able to bridle his whole body as well. God has tried to help us with this monumental task! He put the tongue behind a cage of teeth and walled it in with the mouth, but the tongue is still in a wet place, therefore it can easily slip. If one can control his tongue which so easily slips, then controlling everything else will follow. In the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 39:1, “I said, "I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me.”
James writes in James 3:3, “Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.” As long as a horse is expected to perform, they require the control of the bit. He goes on in verse 4, “Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.” Compared to the overall size of a ship, the rudder is very small, yet it can easily steer the whole ship. Like the bridle and bit and the rudder, the tongue has power to control the rest of us. The bridle and bit must overcome the wild nature of the horse. And the rudder must fight the winds and currents that would drive the ship off course. The human tongue can work against the flesh….or against the spirit depending on how it is used. What power! The human tongue can direct both directly and indirectly. It also has the power to destroy as we will see tomorrow. Until then....