Contentious* speech can be destructive.
Last week we spoke about: Speech can be controlled.
James 3:1-4 –“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.”
“Say what you mean but don’t say it mean.” – Andrew Watcher
James 3:5-8 (NIV) – “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.”
*Consider what it does to me first – It effects me first – we suffer when we willingly participate in these actions.
*It’s not impossible if we let God have control.
1 Peter 3:10 (NIV) – For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.”
James warned that the same tongue also has the potential for evil. (It corrupts the whole person)
Words controlled by our Master can be directed in a positive way. But uncontrolled speech can be contentious* (Stryerig – Omstrede) and destructive like fire and poison.
Previous week I mentioned one of my teachers (Mr De Jong) who believed in me and encouraged me.
Proverbs 15:4 (ESV) – “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
That day I can still remember thinking – “I’m not that bad”
Well I had a few teachers and journey men who spoke destruction over me too.
For many of the people living in Knysna know that danger of a raging bush fire – driven by the Cape winds; James says:
James 3:6 (NIV) – 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.
A little spark from a match has started more than one massive fire – that causes millions of rands damage to homes and timber.
It leaves a wake of destruction behind it
Here Paul is telling the church what they use to be like:
Romans 3:13-14 (NIV) – “13Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. 14Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” (Paul is talking about the sinful man)
The tongue James says is like a fire: How many reputations have been ruined by a carelessly spoken word?
I don’t think we always realize the impact of our words, how far and wide they spread
Proverbs 18:21 (ESV) – “Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
A word on face book can be resent all over the world in seconds….
Like a fire, that word can get out of control with lightning speed and do irreparable damaged.
Proverbs 13:3 (NIV) – “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”
Proverbs 21:23 (NIV) – “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.”
James 3:7-8 (NIV) – 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.”
We’ve all seen how in a Circus lions, elephants, horses, dogs and many more animals can be trained.
Just about anything can be trained except the tongue.
No man can tame his tongue on his own, BUT Jesus can!
It takes a Supernatural act of God to tame the sinful humans tongue.
God can take a Gossiping tongue and turn it into a tongue for glory.
He can take a tongue that spews bitterness, hatred and hurt into one that speaks blessing and life.
James had another word to illustrate the destructive potential of the tongue. He said its “full of deadly poison.”
Poison usually works secretly and sometimes slowly until it eventually kills – They say Rat poison is 99% good for you; it’s the 1% mixed in that kills.
We mean well with our tongue but it’s that 1% of the heart – That destroys!
Think about it….
A few poisonous words inserted into a conversation can destroy relationships and cripple the poisoned person for life.
Contentious speech can indeed be immeasurably destructive.
James is wanting us to sit up, pay attention and do something about our speech!
He reminds us that every harsh, course, filthy, decisive, rumour or angry word spoken has Satan behind it.
The enemy delights in using uncontrolled tongues as a tool to destroy – hearts, homes, hopes and relationships.
No wonder King David prayed “Set a guard, O Lord over the door of my lips” – Psalm 141:3 (NIV)
We ALL need a guard over our mouth!
Let us surrender our lips to God.