I once heard a story of a preacher who told his congregation that on the following Sunday, he was going to expose the biggest troublemaker in the church. After he said that, and as the week progressed, he wondered if anyone would be afraid to come to church on the following Sunday. Would the Sunday attendance drop drastically? But to his surprise, practically the whole town showed up that Sunday. It seems everyone wanted to know who the biggest troublemaker in the church was. To everyone’s disappointment, the preacher revealed that the answer wasn’t a “who” but a “what”. The preacher preached from James chapter three on that Sunday and declared that the biggest troublemaker in the church was the tongue. More damage can be done by the human tongue than by a violent mob. With the tongue, you can destroy a person’s reputation. With the tongue, you can spread gossip whether true or false that can ruin lives forever. The scriptures always hold teachers and spiritual leaders to a higher accountability. So, first James applied his exhortation to church leadership…
“Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. 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 perfectcontrol of life. 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. 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. 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, doesit? 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?” James 3:1-12, The Message Translation
Though “The Message” translation is worded a bit differently than we are used to, James’ message comes out loud and clear. We need to learn to be consistent in our spiritual walks. The way we walk and the way we talk are both equally important.
Lord help us to guard our tongues! Pastor Mike