Life lessons from James #19

Words as well as Works

“Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not on the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day.” – Unknown


James 3:1-12 (NIV) – “1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. 3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”


I’m not sure you have noticed that talk radio has become very popular – Everyone has Something to say.

We have become a Nation of talkers

But words don’t become public through our lips alone….

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Emails, You Tube, Instagram, Whatsapp and the like) are making verbal communication a dying art.


Think about it…

The vast majority of Communication today takes place via – Smartphone text or Computer.

Who would have believed that So much could be said with only 140 characters on Twitter?!

Who can predict what tomorrow’s communication “toy” will be?

We are full of words, but they come more and more, through fast moving fingers on a Keyboard.

Somehow we haven’t learned to heed James warning….


James 1:19(NIV) – “Be quick to hear and slow to speak.”

What comes out of our mouths and what we might type in a text message or send out via social media…

This is of vital importance that James devoted twelve entire verses to it.

Having just addressed the relationship between our Faith and our Works

He turns to the relationship between our Faith and our Words

Our WORDS reveal what is ACTUALLY within us!

James explained that having “good works” isn’t enough if we don’t have “good words.”   (All the good you do, your mouth can cancel it.)

Growing up this quote was used many times when someone said negative, bad, critical words over them: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

This statement is really not true….

Over the years I have worn several scares from sticks and stones, but the scars have healed.

BUT many people who have been the target of harsh words carry wounds for a lifetime that never heal….


They can bless and encourage or breakdown and discourage.

They can help and motivate or hurt and de-motivate

How many children have grown up with hearing a parent say; “You are useless, worthless and won’t amount to much.”

How many have allowed those words to shape their Self Image and determine their Self Worth.


Other children had parents affirm them; “You are important, God has an amazing plan for you – You’re a winner, you can do it.”

How many of these children are successful in all walks of life?

As James addressed that topic of our words, he was echoing what Jesus said years earlier when rebuking the Pharisees.


Matthew 12:36-37(NIV) – “36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned.”

James made three statements about the use of our tongues and gave two illustrations to confirm each point.

First: He reminds us that speech can in fact, be controlled and directed. He illustrated his point with a horse bridle and a ships rudder.

Second: James related an argumentative boastful speech can be destructive like fire and poison.

Finally: James pointed out that conflicting* speech can be very deceptive; he illustrated this fact with images of a spring of water and a fig tree.


Words define us – They reveal what is in our hearts.

Whether we speak them or type them they have power to heal or to hurt, to help or to destroy.

Instead of “JUST DO IT” we need to heed “JUST STOP IT.”

You never get into trouble for what you don’t say and don’t type.


Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Before you speak or type let your words pass through your “think gate”

T hink

H elpfull

I nspirational

N ecessary

K ind