Every week, on Monday, we will have a blog for you with resources for diving deeper into the sermon.
This past week, Pastor Andrew preached on James 3:1-12 with the main idea that our speech reveals what God has done and is doing in our hearts. He split the sermon up into three turns: 1) The will of the pilot, 2) The power of fire, and 3) the two fruits.
In Verses 1-2, James says that those who do not stumble in what they say are perfect. He is implying that since the tongue is impossible to tame for humans (3:8), those who are able to control the tongue are strong enough to control everything else. This should cause us to think hard about how we consider teachers in the church, but we don’t seem to listen to this as a culture. It’s usually the pastors that are saying something shocking and uncontrolled that go viral online. But we must understand that what gets a little uncontrolled in public gets out of control in private.
- The will of the pilot. Verses 3-4 are meant to illustrate that the tongue is small, but it sets the direction for the whole body. Like the rudder of a boat or a bit in a horse’s mouth, these devices are what moves the boat and horse in a certain direction, but it is the pilot who controls the device. Who is in control of what controls our life? Jesus said that the mouth speaks what is overflowing from the heart. Who controls your heart? You? Or God?
- The power of fire. Verses 5-6 have a clear message: uncontrolled speech is dangerous and destructive. Speech can act as a spark that quickly turns into a fire and overtakes whole forests. When the tongue is uncontrolled, it sets our life on fire; it sets us on the path to hell. We all have said something destructive, whether it’s gossip, lying, anger, slander, criticism, arrogance; but, some of us have also felt the destructive nature of words in our own lives. The example of the fire shows us one thing: If you don’t control your tongue, your tongue will control you.
Verses 7-8 present a problem. We can’t control the tongue, and the penalty is hell. But the gospel is refreshing good news for us. Jesus took the fire of hell to give us the freedom of heaven. Jesus had his tongue under control his entire life and yet took the punishment for our sinful words that we might be transformed into people who speak like him.
- The two fruits. Verses 9-12 shows us that what comes out is what lies inside. Christians don’t speak perfectly, but they are in the process of internal transformation so that they have the power to fight for right speech. Much of the sins of the tongue happen because we are trying to form an identity. But because we have been given a new identity in Jesus, we no longer have to fight to create one.
The application should be clear: Submit to God by controlling your speech. For the Christian, there is a choice. We submit or rebel every time we speak. We need to repent and turn from those times when it’s rebellion.
James Reading Guide – We have broken the book of James down so we can read it over the course of the whole series together. This companion reading guide can be downloaded in full (with and introduction to the book) at the link provided.
– Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)