Sunday School Material 2-23-14: Control Your Speech

(James 3:1-12; 2/23/14)

Introduction:A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that believers, especially teachers, should work on controlling their tongues. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to work on controlling our tongues.

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Read James 3:1-2

I. Sober Calling. James talks about how everyone is not cut out to be a teacher. Those who are teachers are judged more strictly than others. In our Sunday School material James talks about being perfect - meaning never being at fault in what one says.

Applications -

- Expectations. Notice in vs. 1 that the bar is higher for teachers. That is, people expect more from teachers in the area of spiritual maturity than they do from other Christians.

One hand, those who teach ought to strive to walk worthy of the vocation that they have been called to. This should include at very least being faithful in studying, serving, giving, loving, worshipping, and following Pastoral leadership.

On the other hand, it is no easier for teachers to live right than for others to live right. If the bar is unreasonably high, we will end up with no teachers.

There is no one who dots all of the “I”s and crosses all of the “T”s. Let’s work on living up to God’s expectations for us and being reasonable in what we expect from others.

Read James 3:3-5

II. Daunting Challenge. James talks about the power of the tongue in our Sunday School material. He compares it to the bit in a horse’s mouth. He compares it to a rudder on a large ship. And he compares it’s destructive force to a small spark that sets a forest aflame.

Applications -

- Powerful tongue. Notice in vss. 3-5 that similar to how a bit has a great impact on a horse, a rudder has a great impact on a ship, and a spark has a great impact on a forest fire, our tongues have a great impact on us, as people and believers.

As we will talk about more in this lesson, it is important to work on controlling our tongue. Let’s work on controlling our powerful tongues.

Read James 3:6-8

III. Grave Danger. James continues to talk about the destructiveness of unruly tongues. Humans can tame many animals. However, James says that no one can tame the tongue. The tongue is said to be restless, evil, and even poisonous.

Applications -

- Destructive tongue. Notice in vss. 6-8 of the Sunday School material that humanity has learned how to tame many wild animals. But we all struggle to tame our tongues. An untamed tongue can be so destructive, evil, and poisonous.

Thus, any concerns we have for growing in the Lord should include controlling our tongues.

If we pay our tithes and offerings, do a great job with controlling our weight, and even give countless hours in community service, but cannot control our tongue, we are subject to at least scare, if not destroy, our good works. Let’s work on controlling our potentially destructive tongues

Read James 3:9-12

IV. Glaring Contradiction. James talks about how people are known for praising God and cursing people with their tongues. He says that this should not be the case.

Just like fresh water and salt water cannot flow from the same stream, so his readers should be known for praise or cursing.

Applications -

- Praising God. Notice in vs. 9 of our Sunday School material that believers should praise God with their tongues. It is embarrassing to see how many people claim to be believers but who refuse to praise God vocally in the corporate worship service.

Instead of exercising their duty to do that which edifies the body, they would rather exercise their right to be silent. Let’s work on praising God with our tongues. When you think about how good He has been to you, it should not be that difficult to praise Him.

- Stop cursing and cussing. Notice in vss. 9-12 that believers are urged to avoid the inconsistency of praising God and cursing people with the same tongue. There is no argument about people being challenging to deal with from time to time.

But as believers, especially disciples of Christ, we are called to rise above the temptation of cursing (i.e., calling for plague or misfortune) and cussing (i.e., using profanity).

The more we praise, the less we should curse and cuss. Let’s work on reframing from cursing and cussing at people who have annoyed us.

Conclusion: Let’s work on controlling our tongues. God has much for those who obey His will.

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