Online Worship for Trinity Seventeen, Sunday September 26, 2021
Sermon for Trinity Seventeen – 8,19,07 -- Sunday September 26, 2021
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
James 3:1-12 (NKJV)
1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things.
If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Dear Fellow Redeemed by His Blood –
We learn from time to time that tiny seemingly insignificant things are vitally important and when they fail entire systems can fail.
When the Space Shuttle Endeavor lifted off into space in 2007, a small, baseball sized chunk of foam – weighing less than an ounce – popped off a fuel line bracket and after ricocheting off a strut slammed at 200 mph into the heat shielding tiles that protect the shuttle upon reentry. This little piece of foam cut a gouge in the thermal tiles on the underside of the Shuttle and they considered repairing the damage in space.
Why the concern? What damage could be done by a piece of foam weighing less than an ounce? There was concern because the thermal tiles protect the shuttle from intense heat upon reentry and without them the Shuttle could burn up and be destroyed.
Who would think that a piece of foam could cause such damage?
The size, weight and composition of a thing do not always determine its lethality! Some of the deadliest things on earth are tiny. Tiny frogs, spiders and even jellyfish can kill because they excrete deadly toxins.
In the Word of God before us this morning, we are reminded that though it is small when compared to other parts of the body, the human tongue is powerful, even deadly.
When the tongue is controlled, it can be used to teach and to bring salvation to other men. It can be used to praise and glorify God.
When the tongue is out of control, it can cause great damage to both souls and relationships.
For this reason, we are all this day encouraged to: Watch your mouth!
May God the Holy Spirit work in our hearts through this Word so that we may grow in our faith and with the Spirit’s help grow more able to control our tongues. Amen.
How would you have done it? If you had designed and set in motion the plan to save humankind from sin and eternal death, how would you choose to communicate the good news to everyone?
Would you align the stars so that the message of salvation could be read in them?
Would you write it in the clouds like a giant marquee?
Would you see to it that the very sound of the wind communicated the truth?
It doesn’t really matter how we might have done it, because God has chosen to communicate the good news of our rescue through words and human speech. In so doing, God made the tongue a truly powerful member. We don’t think of it as powerful, but when the tongue is controlled and used to teach the Word of God truthfully, it serves to glorify God and to bring salvation to many.
On the other hand, when the tongue is not controlled and guided by the Word of God, but by human reason and thinking, then great damage can also be done. Think of the millions of people who worship gods that are figments of their imaginations!
This thought, and the first words of this 3rd Chapter, serve as a warning to every pastor and teacher to say and teach no more than God’s Word. For it seems that some to whom James wrote wanted to be teachers...but perhaps for the wrong reason.
It may sound strange, but we are encouraged:
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3
Don’t misunderstand these words. We are all kings and priests before God. As such, we are all called upon to teach by speaking of Christ. We are all to, as Peter put it, to (1 Peter 2:9):
“…proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light;”
We are not all, however, called to serve in the office of a pastor or teacher. God hasn’t given all of us the ability or the desire to serve in these public offices. It is, after all God who gives us our gifts, the ability to serve in our callings. He also calls and sends Pastors and Teachers, as it is written (Ephesians 4:11-12):
“… He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…”
We are not all to seek the place of teacher in the congregation. While some might consider it an easy job, it is a calling that carries with it great responsibility. In fact, those who teach God’s Word will be called upon to give an account of it on the Day of Judgment.
The Holy Spirit also bears witness to this fact in the letter to the Hebrews, saying (Hebrews 13:17):
17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
Those who are teachers and pastors in the church are certainly to control what comes out of their mouths. For this reason, those who control their mouths, especially in the pulpit, are to be counted worthy of honor. The person who can control his mouth is described as complete, and perhaps able to control the whole body. For the tongue is the most difficult of our members to control!
It is a truly powerful tool, as is borne witness to by the words that follow:
Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.
Though small, both the bridle and the rudder are examples of small but powerful tools.
Once the bit is placed into the mouth of the horse, it enables the rider to control the whole horse, to persuade and guide it, to turn it this way or that.
The rudder of a ship is also small when compared to the whole of the ship. A huge ship driven by violent winds may be turned and guided wherever the pilot wants by means of the rudder.
The tongue is also small, but powerful. When it is controlled, great good can be done; when uncontrolled, the result could be destruction.
See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
The uncontrolled use of the tongue is compared to a forest fire. All it takes is a single match carelessly thrown to destroy its entire forest. The tongue is so placed in our bodies that it can defile the whole.
Our natural tongues, left unbridled are under the control of our sinful natures, guided by Hell and the evil foe.
The damage done by the tongue at times cannot be repaired, like for example when reputations are damaged through gossip. Even a few words spoken in anger or hate can result in the destruction of families and relationships! When tired or emotionally charged we have all done it. We have said things that we regret.
Let’s not excuse it, but seek God’s forgiveness in Christ, remembering that the Lord says (Matthew 12:36):
36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
I am personally ashamed of the damage that I have done through hurtful, sarcastic, emotional words. I thank God that He forgives me my sins for Jesus’ sake. Moreover, if you have sinned in word, seek God’s forgiveness in Christ and the forgiveness of those you have hurt.
For while the horse can be tamed, made docile and no longer a dangerous threat; and the ship controlled in wild seas – no one can tame the tongue, it remains an unstable evil, full of poison that brings death. We use it for evil purposes, like cursing other human beings who have been made in the image of God. This should not be the case!
9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
James shows that it is unproductive for two opposing messages to come out of the same mouth. Even in nature a spring of water doesn’t produce two different kinds of water salt and fresh. A fig tree doesn’t produce olives nor can a grapevine produce figs!
Yet, our mouths do! They can produce both foul and sweet.
Praise God that He sent His Son Jesus, and He used His mouth for good only. Praise God that He silently, without cursing and swearing laid down His life to atone for the times when we use our tongues for evil. We have forgiveness in Him.
Moreover, though we cannot tame our tongues and bring them under complete control – the Holy Spirit can tame and control and guide our tongues for good, to pray, praise and give thanks to Him.
We therefore pray, “Lord Jesus, grant us a greater measure of the Spirit, that we may our tongues to your glory and not our shame.”
Even small things can do damage. The human tongue is small but powerful, and can be used for good when under the control and influence of the Holy Spirit.
May God empower us by the Gospel Word to use our tongues only for the furtherance of His good and gracious purposes.