Series on James - Blog Series
STOP YOUR TONGUE: HOLD IT, BITE IT, WHATEVER IT TAKES
This Month at God’s Enough we have been studying James. This study has been amazing, if you have missed it check out the videos on our Facebook Page. As I have been taking my personal time in reading James I have been often drawn into prayer and conviction over the lifestyle that James calls the Christian to live. I will be honest I do not always live that life, I fail and fall short of God’s glory quite often. That is why when reading James chapter 1: 19-21, 26-27 and 3:1-12 I had to take a step back and re-examine myself once again.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:19-21
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. “ James 1:26-27
“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or 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. Likewise, 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. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. James 3:1-12
The tongue, it is a dangerous weapon. You may say: “they are only words,” however, I would say that it goes much deeper than that. There have been times in my life that I can vividly remember words spoken to me that impacted me incredibly. They impacted me so much that I wanted to be different. The change wanted was not always a good thing, because the words spoken were not always positive or even right. Words said in anger have left scars and me not wanting to ever get out of bed again. While words in love have left me feeling as though I could walk out of my house and conquer the world, or at least the task set before me.
Words are powerful things, and we see this in our society. We may not agree with our society and how they treat certain words, but we cannot deny that our society takes words very seriously, they even take them more seriously than actions at times.
As kids we probably all heard phrases from our parents like: “Think before you speak.” or “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.” These statements made by our parents, have probably been shrugged off or even used in joking with our friends. However, I believe these statements are more profound than we have perceived them in the past.
James tells us that the tongue is a “Fire,” right before that he says “consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” 3:5 Words can start things in motion that no one expects. Words have started wars and ended them, words have brought life and caused death, words have began marriages and ended them. Words have slandered people and destroyed not only their jobs but their entire lives. Words have power that far too often we are not willing to admit that they have.
I want to take a deeper look at James 3:9 “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.” When the Bible is talking about curses it does not mean the four letter words that we may come to mind. It instead is a reference to crude statements, derogatory terms, explicit sexual references and anything that would disrespect the people which God made in His own image.
Matt Chandler put it this way: “Cursing is a verbal attack, hatred, a violence of heart toward people who bear the image of our Creator. It’s a deification of ourselves and a dehumanization of someone else, elevating ourselves to a judge by damning another person.” (1)
See it isn’t crass words that James is warning against here. It is what is in the heart. It is the root of hatred that we have lashed out with our tongues. It is not just the words themselves but the motives behind the words. In Matthew 12: 34 Jesus says: “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.“ He was speaking to the Pharisees in this moment, but it should be a reminder to us, that whatever is in our hearts is what our tongues will say.
So what to do we do? We hold our tongue. I know this is hard and I will be the first to admit I do not always do this well. However, it is incredibly important. Why? Because out of our mouths cannot come praising and curses. So next time you want to lash out, take a deep breath, count to ten and then take a few minutes to think.
Hold your tongue, think before you speak, and if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.
Now Go In God Knowing That He is Enough For You.
Submission is a word that most of us cringe at, and here I go talking about it again.
In the Series on Marriage I talked about submission of the wife to the husband. However, submission to God is not something I have focused on. If you have been following our Live Bible Study on James or if you read it on your own you will see the theme of James leading the church to live a life of Wisdom.
Wisdom here is defined as the ability to live a godly life. And where does that wisdom come from?
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5
Wisdom, knowing how to live a godly life, comes from God Himself.
Living a godly life is hard, being wise is hard, submission is hard. It is however necessary. The truth is you will submit to something. And scripture is clear, you cannot serve two masters. We see this in Luke 16.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Luke 6:13
Jesus says these words. He was telling the Pharisees that they could not serve themselves, or the world and serve God. James warns the church of the same thing in James chapter 4.
“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:4-10
Those words may seem harsh, “anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” The word friendship here is referring to a preferential relationship. It is the idea of choosing what the world has and doing what the world does, over choosing what God has and what he tells you to do. When you choose the world in this way you reject God. This is because He cannot abide our sin, and when we sin, willfully, we are rejecting Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Therefore, we are choosing to be enemies with God. I want to take a moment here and point out that I said when we sin, Willfully, we choose enmity with God. All of us sin, none of us is perfect and we need to be aware of our sin and repent. It is the willful sin and the choose to not care that makes us enemies with God.
It is not easy to walk away from the world, from those things that look so “nice” and to submit ourselves to God. The truth is though, we cannot have it all. Free will gives us the choice to serve God or the world. It does not give us the allowance to hang out with one foot in the world doing whatever we want, whenever we want and the other foot in God’s camp getting all the good things, He has for us. We do not have access to Him and His rewards if we are still holding on to our friendship with the world. We must choose full submission to Him.
We must resist the devil, our sinful nature and evil desires. We must flee. We have to ask God for wisdom. When this process starts and we begin to see our sin we will feel the need to wash ourselves, spiritually. When we begin to live the godly life, we begin to mourn over our own filth and this will bring us to our knees in mourning. This is the humbling that James is speaking of in vs. 10.
Letting go of the world and all the “freedom” found there is difficult, but once you have spent time in God’s camp you begin to see the destruction of that kind of “freedom.” You see how relationships are shallow and end easily. You understand that good feelings are temporary and turn into bitterness and rage. You recognize that monetary things bring joy in the beginning, but eventually are just reminders of the past and often bring up painful memories. See what the world has to offer is only for now, only for the moment. What God has to offer is forever.
Submission to God is hard, but it is also the most peaceful experience. The things of God do not pass away, the relationships that we find with other “wise” people are sustained not by our own goodness, but instead by God’s. For when we live a wise life of submission to God, He lifts us up.
Today ask God for Wisdom and He will help you walk away from friendship with the world.
Now Go in God Knowing That He Is Enough for You.