James 1:19-20 (KJV) “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

Last week we ended with…

Being “Born-Again” by the Spirit of God equips every believer with the ability to “control” the unruliest member of their body – the TONGUE. As we can see, the degree in which we live according to the “Will” and Ways” of God will depend on the level of “Temperance” we exhibit with our tongues!

Exercising “Temperance” with our tongues will control our…

  1. ATMOSPHEREEnvironment

Our tongue is instrumental in controlling our atmosphere through our…

A. DISCIPLINE

James 3:1-4 (KJV) “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth” (Emphasis Added).

It seems that, among the Jewish Christians to whom James wrote this letter, many aspired to be officially recognized teachers (“masters”) of religion.  James reminded his readers that teaching is a serious responsibility, not to be assumed lightly, because people hold teachers to a higher standard of conduct.

James 3:1 (MSG) “Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards” (Emphasis Added).

It is important that you know the Greek word used, and translated “masters,” first means “LEADERS!”  This principle of exercising “Temperance” with the tongue applies to ALL – especially to anyone in “Leadership!

Only those who are called and gifted of God for teaching should become teachers in the church.  No one should teach merely to display one’s knowledge, or to exercise control over others by telling them what they should or should not do, or to be recognized and honored as a teacher.

James focused attention on how difficult it is to never say anything wrong.  As he put it, if a person can control his tongue, he is able to maintain proper control over his behavior.  While no one is perfected yet, there is a definite parallel between the extent to which a person exhibits “Temperance” with his tongue and the extent to which he exercises discipline over his whole life.

James 3:2 (MSG) “And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life” (Emphasis Added).

James used two illustrations to show how something small (like to tongue) can have a powerful influence for good or evil.  For example, a small bit placed in a horse’s mouth enables a rider or driver to turn the horse’s whole body.  In like manner, a ship’s pilot can turn a large ship with a small rudder.  Like the bit and the rudder, the tongue is small but powerful for good or evil.

James 3:3-4 (MSG) “A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds.”

I believe it is “naturally” most difficult to keep silent when we should, speak when we should, and say only what we should!  That is why we need to live “spiritually!”  Sinful deeds are usually preceded by sinful wordsHaving Holy Spirit to control one’s tongue is decisive for having Holy Spirit to control one’s whole life.

Our tongue is instrumental in controlling our atmosphere through our…

B. DIALOGUE

James 3:5-8 (KJV) Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (Emphasis Added).

James described how dangerous an untamed tongue can be.  The tongue is more difficult to tame than any wild animal.  It is small but boastful and has an evil influence larger than its size.  Intemperance of the tongue can defile the whole body and one’s whole life.  The untamed tongue is like a wildfire – the fire of hell – out of control, inflaming every evil passion.  The untamed tongue is like deadly poison.

James 3:5-8 (MSG) “A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer.”

Words are powerful, and evil words can do extreme harm.  World wars, the Holocaust, the atrocities committed by socialist dictators, the cruelties of racism, and the violence of terrorists have all been instigated and fueled by arrogant and hateful words.

“It isn’t hard to make a mountain out of a molehill; just add a little dirt.” – Author Unknown

Our tongue is instrumental in controlling our atmosphere through our…

C. DECISIONS

James 3:9-12 (KJV) Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (Emphasis Added).

The tongue can be used for either good or evil – to praise and thank God or to curse our fellowman.  However, the Christian ought never to use his tongue for evil purposes.  It does not agree with Christian principles to use the same tongue to speak both evil and good.

James 3:9-12 (MSG) “With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?”

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Edison’s Talking Machine
Once when introducing Thomas A. Edison at a dinner, the toastmaster mentioned his many inventions, dwelling at length on the talking machine. The aged inventor then rose to his feet, smiled and said gently to his audience: “I thank the gentleman for his kind remarks, but I must insist upon a correction. God invented the talking machine. I only invented the first one that can be shut off.” –1001 Bible Illustrations

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By the enabling of the Holy Spirit, we can manifest “Temperance” in the use our tongues for good rather than evil.  Speaking the truth in love, speaking against evil and injustice, making the Gospel known to others, and speaking words that inform and build up should be our goals in all we say.