James: Wisdom on this Side of the Cross – Part 4

James: Wisdom on this Side of the Cross – Part 4

Writings – James “Watch your mouth!” James 1:19-20; 3:1-18; 4:11-17 August 19, 2018

I. The POWER of the TONGUE. (3:1-8)
A. A WARNING to would be TEACHERS. (3:1-2)
1. From a SPARK to a FIRE. (3:5)
2. A corrupting WORLD of EVIL. (3:6)
3. RESTLESS and full of POISON. (3:8)

James is well known for his teachings on the power of the tongue. He uses very descriptive language to remind us that this small part of the body has tremendous potential, both for good and evil. How will we choose to use it?

1. In your opinion is James warning all “formal” teachers, or anyone who would try to teach another? Why do you think that?
2. Which of the descriptive phrases for the power of the tongue have you actually seen in action?

II. The TONGUE reveals the HEART. (3:9-18; Mt. 12:34)
A. CURSING and SLANDER… (3:9-12; 4:11-12)
B. …reveal SELFISH AMBITION and ENVY. (3:14; 4:11-12)
C. The tongue BOASTS or DENIES… (3:5,14; 4:13-16)
D. …but the TRUTH is seen in ACTIONS. (3:13-18)

The other clear idea about the tongue from James is that is opens the doorway of understanding for us as to what is actually inside. As Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks,” (Mt. 12:34) James reminds us that the things that come out of our mouths help us to see what lies within our hearts.

3. The tongue reveals the heart. Do you agree? Have you found it true in your own life?
4. What does it mean to slander another? Is it the same as gossip? What do slander and gossip reveal about the person speaking them?
5. Do you find you tend to talk too much? Why is that? Do words make up for or cover over a lack of actions?

III. TRAINING the UNTAMEABLE tongue. (1:19; 4:11; Prov.17:27-28)
A. TELLING the TRUTH about YOURSELF. (4:14; Rom. 12:3)
B. INTENTIONALLY practicing SILENCE. (James 1:19; Lam 3:28; Is 30:15)
C. CHOOSING to speak GRACE. (Prov. 15:4; Eph. 4:29)

No one can tame the tongue, says James. But he also tells us to try. So the untameable tongue can be trained. There are some specific practices that we can intentionally participate in that will help us to be less controlled by the tongue and to speak life into the world.

6. What does it mean in your life to “tell the truth about yourself”?
7. Have you intentionally practiced silence? Why or why not? Do you see a need to do that?
8. What are three specific ways you can speak grace in the coming week?

“A fool’s tongue is long enough to cut his own throat” ~Bruce K. Waltke