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Taming the Tongue

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James 3:1-12


            In the early church, teachers were of great importance.  Whenever they are mentioned, they are mentioned with honor.  In the church at Antioch they are ranked with the prophets who sent out Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:1).  In Paul’s list of those who hold great gifts within the church they come second only to the apostles and the prophets (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11).  The apostles and prophets were on the move.  Their concern was the whole church, and they did not stay long in any one congregation.  But the teachers worked within a congregation and their supreme importance was to instruct the facts of the Gospel and edify the saints.  It was the responsibility of the teachers to put the right stamp of faith and knowledge on those who were entering the church for the first time.

            As you can see, false teachers could do great harm.  Not only must the content be biblical, but their lives must model it as well.  Rom. 2:17-24  Evidently, some were becoming teachers before they knew the Bible themselves.  1 Tim. 1:6-7  Because of our sinful nature, without true teachers to guide us, we will gravitate to false teachers who will tickle our ears with what we want to hear.  2 Tim. 4:3 

            In our text, James’ conviction is that teaching is a dangerous occupation for any man.  His instrument is the tongue.  Therefore, he warns about the responsibility of teachers.  The use of the tongue touches every man, woman and child; therefore, this lesson is to be sternly attended by all of us.  Read Text!

1.      What should one consider before entering into the field of Christian teaching?  Eccl. 7:23-29

2.      Rom. 2:21  What can a teacher do to avoid being a hypocrite?

3.      What do we need to receive from God before we can become spiritual leaders?  1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11-12

4.      What is one of the first ways we show our shortcomings?  Ja. 3:2   Is being able to control your tongue necessary to being a candidate as a teacher?  Why must teachers be careful about their speech? 
Matt. 12:36-37

5.      James’ first illustration of the importance of controlling the tongue is that of a horse and a bridle.  Ps. 32:9  Horses are stronger than man, but how much pressure/tension on bridle does it take to turn a horse around?  How does this illustration apply to the use of the tongue?

6.      James’ second illustration is that of a rudder on a ship.  There is power in small things.  What power is there in our small tongue?  Prov. 18:21;  Rev. 19:14-15

7.      James’ third illustration of the tongue is that of a fire.  How fast can a spark spread in a forest?  How does that illustrate the tongue?  What can be the consequences of a “loose tongue” according to verse 6 of our text?

8.      What is the source of corrupt speech according to verse 6?  If you take away the source of the “whisperer”, what happens to the fire according to Prov. 26:20?

9.      What is the parallel of an evil man and his tongue according to Prov. 16:27?  What is God’s judgment of someone like that, according to Ps. 101:5?

10.  James’ fourth illustration of the tongue is that of wild beasts (3:7-8).  What is the point he makes with this illustration?  Can man tame his tongue?  How often does your tongue hurt yourself or others?  What have you found to help in taming your tongue?

11.  Who has the power to help us control our tongue according to Ps. 19:13-14?

12.  What effect does an undisciplined tongue have on others?  Ps. 140:3   To what extreme will an undisciplined tongue go according to Ja. 3:9?

13.  Cursing is inconsistent with a Christian who reflects the character of his Lord within him.  What comparison does James make in 3:11-12, and what is the point he makes?  See also.  Matt. 7:16-17  If there is sufficient provocation, do you think cursing is justified?


            Do you think if we try hard enough, we can tame the tongue?  How many people you know are making a serious effort to tame their own tongue?

            Since we have taken a look at the devastation the tongue can do, let’s look at the contrast in
Eph. 4:29-32.

            Definition of gossip: Sharing anything that is injurious or detrimental with someone who is not in a position to do anything about it.

            When caught in a gossiping situation, at the very front, stop them and say, “I don’t think I should be hearing this.  Do you have so in so’s permission to be sharing this?  Am I the one you should be sharing this with?  Should you not be sharing this with someone who is in the position to do something about this?”

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