Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that James is urging godly talk. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to work on consistent godly talk.
Read James 3:1-5a
I. Lack of Control. James mentions a precaution about being a teacher. In our Sunday School material, he talks about the importance of controlling one’s tongue. He compares the tongue with a bit in a horse’s mouth and a ship’s rudder.
- Teachers. Notice in vs. 1 that many people should not be teachers. The reason given is because teachers are judged more strictly. First, every believer should strive to live by God’s word.
The foundational issues of God’s word are making sure you are saved by accepting Jesus as your savior by faith (see Jn. 3:16) and living a life focused on loving God and others, as you love yourself (see Mk. 12:29-31).
Second, when you are a teacher, you are judged more strictly, or more is expected out of you. Think about how we expect people to practice what they preach.
Third, many should not be, but “some should” be teachers or at least discussion leaders. A great thing about growth group is the teaching/applications are supplied. The leader is simply facilitating discussion or the process of helping people understand the material.
Let’s seek God’s wisdom and courage to respond to His calling us to serve in whatever capacity he chooses.
- Powerful tongues. Notice in vss. 2-5a that the tongue is small but powerful like a bit or rudder. First, as we will talk about shortly, the tongue is small when compared to the rest of the body, but it is so powerful. It can be used for good (e.g., praising God and/or encouraging others), or it can be used for bad (e.g., cursing others, lying, etc.).
We should aim to use our tongues for good, not bad. Second, as James used comparisons to help his readers understand his point, we should strive to be effective communicators. Comparisons understood by those we are talking to can be helpful. Let’s work on using our tongues for good and being effective communicators.
Read James 3:5b-8
II. Result of Failure. James compares the tongue to a spark that starts a forest destroying fire in our Sunday School material. The tongue is said to be very destructive. He talks about how people tame animals but not their tongues.
- Destructive tongues. Notice in vss. 5b-8 that the tongue can lead to so much destruction. As believers, we should strive to avoid using our tongues for destructive purposes.
On one hand, we are human. Which means that when someone talks in a harmful way to us, we are tempted to retaliate.
But on the other hand, we are called to deny ourselves and dedicate ourselves to the divine direction of controlling our tongues. Let’s work on keeping our tongues from evil usage.
Read James 5:9-12
III. Lack of Consistency. James talks about praising God and cursing people with the same tongue. He says this should not be the case. In our Sunday School material, he compares his pint to a stream either having salt or fresh water, but not both.
- Praising the Lord. Notice in vs. 9a that the tongue can be used for praising the Lord. In fact, this is a great use of tongue. We have so much to praise God for.
Let’s work on using our tongues to praise the Lord. We can start with Sunday worship services; however, God is worthy of our praise every day.
- Cursing people. Notice in vs. 9b that the tongue can be used for cursing people. James notes that the people who are cursed are made in God’s likeness.
First, when people cause harm in your life, most of us are tempted to say bad things. And if we are trying to make a positive impact, in a world where the devil is using people to cause negative impacts, we are sure to run into some people who will offend us.
Second, as difficult as it can be to appreciate in the moment, every human being has some image of God (i.e., God likeness) in them. Think about how at your worse there is still some God in you. This is true of the person you want to curse as well.
This point should help us refrain from cursing those carrying the image of God. To some degree, when we curse those who carry the image of God, we curse God as well.
Third, as disciples, we should work on not being so easily offended. It is one thing for a young person or new believer to be easily offended. But as maturing disciples of Christ, we should be able to ignore somethings and forgive even more things through the power of Christ.
Let’s work on growing to the point that we refrain from cursing or speaking negatively about those who carry the image of God.
- Consistency and repentance. Notice in vss. 10-12 that James urges consistency with our tongues. He urges us to be known for godly speaking and praise or ungodly speaking and cursing. We should not be known for both. This point is self-explanatory.
Another point to be made in this area is, if we falter in this area, we should repent. Don’t think that because you have cursed a person then you might as well be consistent and just keep on cursing whoever you choose.
On the contrary, confess your sins, receives God’s forgiveness (see I Jn. 1:9), and strive to live in obedience to God’s word. Let’s work on being consistently godly, which calls for repentance, when we falter.
Conclusion: Let’s work on consistent godly talk. God has much for those who obey His will.
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