The Power of Words, The Purpose of the Tongue – James 3:9-12

The rightful use of the tongue…
James 3:9…

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. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

How often do you stop and think about the words you use? I mean, when was the last time you paused long enough to ask yourself, what do these words mean?

Oh, but there just words. Really? Let’s consider what James says.

Verse 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 you look at people, do you see the image of God?

I know I don’t. And yet James is reminding that we, are made in the image of God. But, aren’t we quick to speak our mind to that guy who just stopped short on the highway causing you to slam your brakes. Man, what an idiot!

Or how about sharing a few choice words with the phone operator who left you on hold for 20 minutes while they tried to assist you with your problem. Ugh! they are so stupid.

You see, we all have those moments when we lose control and say things, sometimes foul things, things that belittle or condemn or beat down another person. But it more than that. It’s the gossip. It’s the lies. It’s the stories we tell about events and people that contain half-truths, or exaggerations, personal opinions about what we saw or heard. James says, this person is made in the image of God, and so you curse them? Brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Beyond how we speak about and to other, James calls in to question the very words we use. In verse 10, James is as frank as he can be and puts it right there in front of us. “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters this should not be.”

Monday through Friday, it’s no holds barred. The tongue is loose. It says what it wants. It speaks what it wants. It sets fire where it wants. It’s the fullness of evil, burning with the fires of hell. But come Saturday or Sunday, for one hour, well, it’s all praise and worship.

Do you see the problem? Do you see the hypocrisy? Do you see the issue that James is addressing?

Can both fresh water and salt water come from the same well? Can a fig tree bear olives or a grapevine produce figs?

Can a believer, a follower of Christ, whose mouth is suppose to bring glory and honor to the creator speak both praise and cursing?

You see, there’s a problem with our culture. The problem is we no longer care about how we speak. We have become too accustom to a society that has devalued its words. But it’s not just a problem within society, it’s a problem within the church as well. And like those around us we speak just like everyone else.

I was in seminary when I first heard a Christian curse. It shocked me. I thought, surely we were better then that. I thought we were called to live to a different standard. I’m not saying that we have to be perfect in all that we do. But I do think we need to know and live by the standards that God has set for his people.

Tonight is convicting, even for me. And I think we have to take a hard look at what James says. The thing about the Bible is, it’s the Bible. This is God’s Word. It’s his word to his people. What we read in this book is for us. It’s for us to know and live by. And sometimes what we read is a little hard for us to swallow.

But if we are committed to this. If we are committed to following Jesus to the very end. If we are committed to being his church at this time. Then we have to be totally committed to living the life of faith that he desires us to live.

We need to control our tongue…

We need to be aware of the danger of an uncontrolled tongue…

We need to speak the words that are right as we praise the Lord with our tongue…

Following Jesus requires that we live radical lives. Lives not like those around us.

– jay

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