James 3:1-12 (Week 5 – Faith in Action Series)
Jason White



In this section of James, he shows us that there is power in our speech. Our words can influence the direction of our lives, destroy our lives (with negative self-talk) and the lives of others, and bring life and healing to ourselves and others.







Sermon Audio Transcript
Words are important.The words that we say to ourselves are important. The words that we say to other people are important. The words that we speak, can often be very powerful in our own lives and in the lives of others, they can impact lives of others in a positive way. They can influence or impact lives in a negative way. And so we have to be careful about what it is that we say and who we say it to, and even how we say some of those things sometimes, right. For example, there was a man who was living in Chicago during the winter time, and he just decided that he couldn't take it any more. I mean, he was fed up with the cold and the wind and the snow and having to shovel all the snow. And so he just decided that he was going to leave Chicago, escape the winter, and go down to Florida, and just chill there until the winter passed. His wife was away on a business trip. And so he called her and said, Hey, this is my plan. I'm gonna get a plane ticket, I'm going to Florida. And I'd love for you to just meet me there after your business trip. She says, Okay, great. He hangs up the phone, he gets his ticket, he flies down to Florida. He's there. He wants to check in with his wife let her know that he's there. And looking forward to her joining him. And all of the above. Of course, he knew that being a business trip that she had a lot of different activities that she was in it didn't want to call or interrupt. And so he decided to send her an email. The only problem was is that he accidentally typed in her email address incorrectly. He put the email address of someone other than his wife, and instead of going to her, it went to this elderly woman in Iowa. She was a pastor's wife, and her husband had just died the day before. And so this elderly woman who had been a widow for only one day now clicked on this email that should have gone to this other man's wife. And when she read it, she screamed really loud and just fainted right there on the spot. Family members who were around her what was going on and came running in to see what all of the commotion was about. And when they read the email, they understood why it was that she had fainted. It said, My dearest darling, I just want you to know that I have arrived safely. And I'm looking forward to you joining me tomorrow.Signed your loving husband, PS, it sure is hot down here.Words are importantwords that we say to other people can impact them, either in a positive way or a negative way. A Apostle James knows this. And he's going to be talking about that in this section of scripture. Remember, as we've been saying, all summer long as we've been going, verse by verse through this series, James is very practical, and a lot of things that he is talking about. He's talking about how the faith that we have in Christ, and the way that we daily walk in dependence on Christ leads to action. And in this particular way, he's saying that as we walk by faith, it impacts the words that we say. And if we're not walking by faith in Christ, it can also impact the words and the things that we say maybe in a negative way. And so today, what as we dive into verses one through four, I just want to say up front, that the first thing that James is saying is that our tongue, that our words that we speak, have the power to direct our lives. Look at what James says beginning of verse one, he says 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 and 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 James is showing us again that our words that our tongues have the power to direct our lives.lives and he even gives us a couple of images to think about of how some small things can move much bigger things in various directions are one of those was the rudder of a ship. And of course the other was a bit in the mouth of a horse. My wife Natalie, who's not here today, she's sick. But when she was growing up, she had a horse, his his name was blazer and she loved to ride. Blazer, she loved the horse and love to just be on him and, and was outside and interacting with blazer all the time is a matter of fact, I don't know how old all of you are. But many of you in the early 90s, may even remember the TV show, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, anybody remember that show. So Natalie was kind of fascinated with that show. And it was about this woman who was a doctor, and it was in the old west in the 1800s. And she would ride her horse to go check in on people and help kind of save the day, you know, and whatever situations or circumstances that people found themselves in. And so Natalie decided that she was Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and would jump on blazer. And there's no telling how many people got saved in her backyard as she was riding that horse off and on. So when she does make it back next Sunday, be sure to just walk up to her and not call her by her name. But say, Hey, what's going on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Anyway, I want you to picture Natalie being a little girl, right? I mean, four foot, five foot, nothing 50 to 6070 pounds at most. And I want you to think about her being on this five to six foot tall horse eight foot in length and weighing over 1000 pounds, and how she could control the direction of this horse. I mean, this little girl had the power to direct this horse, wherever it is that she was going to rescue whoever it was that was in need in those moments, all because of this little bit in his mouth. In James's saying that our tongue, our speech has that kind of power with us. This little three inch muscle in our mouths can keep our whole body in check. It can influence our entire life, right? The direction that we're going, what it is that we're doing is a matter of fact, you may even remember that when Jesus faced temptation in the desert, how he handled those situations, with words with his tongue, right? Let's look at it in Matthew, chapter four. We're told this the tempter came to him came to Jesus and said, If you are the Son of God, tell the stones to become bread. Jesus answered, he used his tongue he used words here it is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. If you are the Son of God, he said, throw yourself down. For it is written He will command his angels concerning you and they will lift you up in their in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. For seven, Jesus answered him. It is also written do not put the Lord your God to the test. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. All of this I will give you he said if you will bow down and worship me. Jesus said to him away from me, Satan, for it is written Worship the Lord your God and serve him only. Then the devil left him in angels came and attended him. Jesus used words of truth, to direct his life, away from the temptation that he was facing in this moment. It was faith, working with action, as James talked about in chapter two. Jesus's actions were to speak words of truth, and as he did so that determined the direction of his life. In those moments, he moved him in the direction away from the sin and stepping into what he was being tempted with, in a way from it in the direction that God was having him go because he used his words to call out and declare truths of scripture in the direction that God had for his life. In those particular moments. Our Words have the power to direct our life.eyes in the same way, the same way that a big controls a horse or a little rudder controls a huge hit ship. It may seem like a small thing. But James says they are way more powerful. Our words are way more powerful than you think that they are.We think about this, when have you ever stepped into sin? Whenever you were declaring scripture?When have you ever stepped into sin when you were singing hymns or worship songs and truly declaring and thinking about the truth that was found in those lyrics that you were singing? When have you ever stepped into sin? When you spoke truth about your identity in Christ, saying things like I am a child of God, I am no longer a slave to sin in Christ. And I have everything that I need in my union with Him, when have you ever stepped into sin? When declaring truths like this?See what happens in these moments when we declare these truths is that our, our tongue is directing our lives away from the temptation that we're facing. The action that we take with our words, works together with our faith, our words, declare our dependence on Christ. In fact, when we declare that dependence on him is when that that power that dwells in us from the moment we say yes to Jesus begins to flow through us begins to be expressed through us to overcome the influence that we are facing in that moment, and to move us in God's direction in those moments. So James says that man, our words are words are powerful, and they have the power to direct our whole body in the direction that our lives are going at various moments. But as he gets into the next few verses, he shows us that our words also have the power to destroy the power to direct our lives, but they also have the power to destroy our lives and to destroy the lives of others. Look at what he says beginning of verse five. Likewise, the tongue again is a small part of the body. But it makes great boast, consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also 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 Hill, all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures are being tamed, and have been tamed by mankind. But no human being contained the tongue, it is a restless, evil, full of deadly poison.Most of you know that. I spent several years teaching and coaching before God called me into vocational ministry. And was this one time that I remember this student that I had, whose, whose dad would come out to watch him play in some of the matches that we had against other schools. And his dad was one of those guys, that would just point out every single negative thing that he saw his son doing? Bend your knees, Quit hitting the net, you know, hit more spin on it, or move your feet or, you know, why do you keep doing this? Why are you making these mistakes? And even when he finally did something, right, he was still negative with his words was like, Oh, finally, why can't you do that all the time, right? And it's just always something negative. It was never, ever good enough to please his father. And so I remember watching this guy play this student play in practice. And that was, it was one thing in practice. I mean, it was free and he was having fun. And I mean, he was a great tennis player when when a lot of matches when we were in practice, and even other against other teams when his dad wasn't there. But the moment his dad showed up, and began to speak negatively and point out all of his fault, he became a completely different player. His dad's words had the power to destroy his son. And they did it not just in tennis and on the tennis court, but in his life. He never felt like he was good enough, never felt like he measured up. James says that the tongue is a restless evil. It is full of deadly poison. It has the power to destroy.I mean, how many of us have been crushed by the words of one of our parents? How many of us have been crushed by the words of a spouse? How many of us have been crushed by the words of a friend or an acquaintance or a boss or a co worker? All of us probablyHave we know what it feels like to be destroyed by someone else's words, how many of us have been crushed by the words of a pastor, or the words of someone in church whenever they were used to guilt or shame or manipulate us in some way.How many of us have crushed our own kids,crushed our own spouse, crushed a friend of ours or our employees through the words that we have spoken ourselves, words, have the power to destroyit, think about it, even from the perspective of what we talked about just a second ago with how Words have the power to direct our lives. Remember, we talked about how Jesus quoted Scripture, and he when he declared certain truths about who God was and about who he was in her, his identity being found in him how it impacted his life in a positive way, and how those words can impact our own lives in a positive way. But think about that the opposite is also true. in a negative sense. If we're declaring words like, Man, I don't have the power to overcome this temptation. This is just part of who I am, this is just part of my sin, nature, it's who I am. Nobody loves me, nobody accepts me. All of these other people have way more worth and gifts and talents than I do. I don't measure up when we speak words like that, when we have negative self talk in our own lives, our lives get directed down a path of destructiondestroys you, you time that you begin to give in to the temptations. The times where you enter into depression, the times that you have thoughts about harming yourself or that, you know, maybe it'd be better if you weren't even here.The words that we even say to ourselves, based on the things that we're going through in those moments, have the power to destroy our lives. But it's not just our own lives, but also the people around us. Because when we're, we're using negative self talk, it's often when we begin to then take it out on other people. Or then we have to knock other people down a notch or two, to try to help prove our own worth because of how much negative self talk we've directed at our selves, we begin to point out everything that's wrong with other people. Sometimes we say that to their face, or we say it to other people about them.We try to build ourselves up because we've been trying and we've been speaking these lies about ourselves.Instead of who we are in Christ,which then leaves us in bondage.Because we can't think those things about ourselves. So we have to take from other people, no way we take from other people is to rip them and destroy them with our words. So they can feel like it builds us back up.Our words can destroy ourselves, it can destroy people. And as we use our words to destroy other peoplecan destroy her reputationcan destroy the trust that we have with other people. Our tongue is a small thing. But it has the powerto unleash so much destruction in our own lives, and in the lives of the people around us.But, as James alludes to here, in this last section, our words also have the power to bring life. Verse nine, he says with the tongue we 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. This should not be can both freshwater and saltwater flow from the same spring. My brothers and sisters can a fig tree bear olives or a grape vine bear figs, neither kind of Salt Spring produce fresh water. Okay, so many of you know this, but there are a lot of places around our world who still don't have access to something or things like clean drinking water. I mean, you and I take it for granted. We don't even ever think about those kinds of things. But there are villages there are places in our world that don't even have access to clean drinking water. And as they're drinking this dirty water that's filled with different bacteria and all kinds of other things. It's producing death. It's producing sickness and illnesses and sometimes people are even dying from these kinds of things. But as these kinds of villages get access to clean drinking water, the now that water brings lifeWater fresh, clean, good water brings life it is life giving, in our words can give life to Proverbs 1011 says that the words of the godly are a life giving fountain. Our words can bring out the life that Jesus gives us. And that we have in our union with Him, they begin to release his life through us, to move us down his paths to produce fruit, and to bless other people in our lives. Jesus even told the woman at the well and John for that the water that he gives would become a spring of water welling up to eternal life. You're looking at what he says in John 410. He says, if you knew the gift of God, and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water, verse 13, Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water, welling up to eternal life.Jesus, of course, is the life that he's describing. He is the life giving water. And the moment we put our faith and trust in Jesus for salvation, He forgives us of our sins. And then he puts that living water in us and becomes our source. And it begins to flow through us in order to bring life to others. And so James says, out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. And he says, my brothers and sisters, this should not be why should that not be?Because it's no longer who you are. You've been given life in Christ, he's re made you and given you a new heart, and given you a new identity, he's put his living water in you so that it would flow out of you, in your words, and in your speech, to produce praise, to produce blessing, to produce words of encouragement and support and life into other people's lives. And so when you and I hear words coming out of our mouths, like we, like James is talking about here where there's cursing, along with the praise, it should grab our attention. That's not who I am. That's not who Christ has remade me into, right, I'm a, I'm a fresh water spring, where is that salt, water coming from out of my mouth right now.Sometimes, even though we've been made into a new creation in Christ, we've been given a new heart, we've been filled up with His living water, we walk in our flesh instead of the Spirit. And as we walk in our flesh, independently from Christ in our own power and strength, then we get fleshly words that come out of our mouths that are directed at ourselves, and that are directed at other people that destroy, but Jameson that shouldn't be because that's not who you are anymore, right. And when you renew your mind to the truth, and you know who you are, then you can recognize those words that are coming out to go, oh, wait a minute, that's inconsistent with who I am, and who Jesus has now made me into, I need to allow him to speak his words in me and through me to bring life to myself or allow me to experience the life that I have. And to also bring that life to others. I mean, it is so life giving, to declare who God is and to sing his praises. I mean, isn't it I mean, don't don't you just feel that when we're singing together as his church body and declaring, you know, these these truths, and we're singing about face things, and we're, we're clapping after the word done, not because the band made some great performance up here. But because we're in agreement with what we just sang about being true in our lives, and how blessed we are, it's producing life, we're experiencing this life that we have in Christ by being reminded through the words that we're singing about in those moments. So life giving to declare who we are in Christ.To use that kind of self talk with ourselves.I think this is something that a lot of us really miss out on in neglect and me in my own life, I'm recognizing it more and more that the outward behaviors and the things that I'm doing in my life are influenced by the way that I speak tomyself, the way that I allow Jesus to either speak to myself, or I'm walking in my flesh, I have this little bookmark, many of you have one of these two, it was given to me by Bill loveless who runs Christ is Life Ministries, and I keep it with me and, and every now and then I pull it out and I just begin to read, you know what's on it because they're all scripture. It's got scripture lined up on one side of it. And it's the identity statements that's found in each one of these passages of Scripture. And so it says, In Christ, I am righteous and holy. In Christ, I am unconditional, unconditionally loved and loving. I am confident, I am fearless. I'm adequate, I'm worthy, I'm humble. I'm free. I'm more than a conqueror. I'm accepted and acceptable, I am forgiven, and I am a forgiving person. In Christ, I am strong, I am complete. I am compassionate, kind and patient, I'm secure. I'm a saint, I'm sacrificial. I am others focused, I am joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful and gentle, I'm a joint heir with Christ, I am in possession of the mind of Christ, I am God's workmanship in Christ created in him to do his work. I'm a child of God, I'm a son of God, I am Christ, friend, I am chosen by God, holy and dearly loved. I am a chosen race, a royal priesthood, I'm part of a true vine, a channel a branch of his life, I am joined to the Lord, and I'm one with Him in spirit, and I am an expression of the life of Christ, because He is my life.Howthat is the kind of self talkthat we need in our lives, because they line up with the truth of Scripture and who we really are in Him. So that now we can go out and walk out who we are, as we live in faith in dependence on him, because we've renewed our minds to the truth, rather than listening to the negative self talk that Satan influences with and that our flesh sometimes produces. And then when we're saying those kinds of things to ourselves, it's what frees us up to then speak life to other people. I really believe that a lot of the stuff that we're speaking to other people comes from the negative fleshly self talk that's directed at us, again, because we're tied up to having to then unload on other people, to try to knock them down in order to what build us back up because of how much we've been beating ourselves up through that time. Our words can have a powerful impact not just on ourselves. But of course, other people as well.As a matter of fact, if I asked, well, don't just do it right now, if you guys would just think for a few seconds, I guarantee you that you would have someone that almost instantaneously comes to mind, that have spoken words of life to you, that have influenced you, in the course in the direction of your life, that maybe you even are where you are today in doing what it is that you're doing because of what a coach or a teacher or a mom or a dad or an aunt or an uncle or a mentor, or a boss or someone spoke into you.I'll never forget I spent a year transitioning between youth ministry in a lead pastor role and was in this mentoring program with this lead pastor who I really respected and had been really successful. And I at that time, and still from time to time, there's a lot of negative self talk, there's a lot of negative comparing myself and I don't really match up I don't know, if I'm qualified, I don't even know if I can do this thing. Well, I ended up getting my first lead pastor position. And he had written me a note and put it in an envelope and said, Do not open until your first day on the job. And you're sitting at your desk in your office on that first day. And I'm walking into this job, second guessing myself wondering if I have what it is what it is that it's going to take to be able to lead these people and stand up and teach from God's Word. And in all that comes with being in the lead pastor role, and I opened up the envelope and I read the little index card that he had taken out and written a note of encouragement to me on and he said, Jason, when you begin to doubt what it is in your ability to do, what God's called you to do, don't ever forget that God reached down into the sea of humanity and out of the sea of humanity. He chose you to lead these people. SoSo go lead these people, right? All of a sudden, you know what I'm doing. I'm sitting up in my chair a little bit straighter, you know, I'm sticking my chest out a little bit more not because of me, but because I know that God is the one who called me out for this particular role in that he's the one who equips and enables and empowers those that he calls to be in those roles. And so let's go do this, right.Those words spoke life to me, I've gone back to those words over and over. And I guarantee you that you can think of someone that has spoken those kinds of words and that life into you and shaped you. Now think about how Jesus might want to use you to speak those same words of life and to other people. Because of that kind of a powerful impact that they can have on them. You never know what Jesus is wanting to do, in and through your words.So this book of James, again, is all about faith and action. And James shows us here that one of the ways faith takes action is through our words, they have the power to direct our lives. They have the power to destroy our own lives and the lives of others. But they also have the power to bring life, allow us to experience life we have in Christ, and bring life and allow other people to experience the life of Christ through us as well. And so, adults,teenagers in the room.What is Jesus saying to you about your speech today? About the words that you're saying to yourself? Or the words that you're saying to other people?Is he bringing to mind right now the way that you're constantly involved in negative self talk, constantly comparing yourselves to others?Is he wanting to use this to grab a hold of your attention, to be directed to him, to your identity and Christ to who he is, and learn to begin to speak those truth into your lives, to be able to direct and to be able to experience the life that he has given you and wants to express through you?Is he getting your attention about the words that you're speaking to your spouse, and how those words are often used to destroy your spouse.He, getting your attention about the way that you're using your words to destroy your kids lives,to destroy your co workers lives, your other friends lives,and how much they hurt, how much they've been impacting them.See, wanting to channel that and now use it to move you in a new direction to where you're speaking life to your spouse, your speaking life to your kids or your grandkids or speaking life to your co workers or your employees.Teenagers, what's he saying to you about the words you use on social media? The words that you're saying to other people on social media adults, what's he saying to you about the words you're usingon social media,the word that you're using to destroy the other people who look differently from you who think differently from you who are on the other side of the political aisle from you.Jesus has something to say to us about the words that we are speaking to ourselves or to other peoplein the way that he wants to expresslife through usto be able to impact the direction that he's moving usin to be able to pour that life and blessing out into others. Whatever it is that he's saying to you about your words and your speech this morning. I hope that you're listening to what he's saying. And that you will respond by making yourself available to move you in His ways, and what he's wanting to do in this area of your life today.