Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

29. Test 6: The Tongue Test – Part 2

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James 3:1-12

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 in 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. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is 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 hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 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.

A test-failing tongue is no only condemning but second it is:

  • Controlling (3-5a)

Here James paints two powerful pictures get his point across. That of a 5 lb. bit and bridle controlling a 1500 lb. animal, and a small piece of wood controlling a large ship driven by the huge winds of nature. He is comparing the tongue to those small things that control something much bigger. The average weight of the human tongue is less than 3 ounces. But what can it control? What did Adolph Hitler’s tongue control? Like the rudder of a ship, the tongue can lead to the loss of life on the rocks of hate or bring us into the protective harbor of peace. That little 3-ounce piece of meat can control unbelievable things. But is that what it was created for? Did God give us the gift of speech to control and manipulate others? Manipulation is the opposite of teaching, because instead of being rooted in servanthood it wreaks of selfishness. Manipulation is motivated by wants not God’s Will. It’s doing what it takes to get people to do what you want them to do. Sometimes it involves playing on their emotions. “If you loved me you would…” It’s what pathetic little boys posing as real men do when they say if you really loved me you would sleep with me. That’s not love its lust, its manipulation not manhood. Sometimes it involves bribery, or intimidation. Sometimes it even goes to the extent of emotional blackmail. “If you don’t do what I want, I’m going to leave you, or run away, or kill myself…” Manipulation is using your tongue as an instrument of control. When we do, we reduce people to chess pieces to be controlled instead of people to be cared for. So, if we can’t use our tongues to manipulate, how do we get people to do what we want them to? That’s the point, life isn’t about getting your way it’s about God’s Will. God didn’t put us here to try and control each other but to let Him be in control. If I try to manipulate your emotions to get you to follow God, that’s wrong. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to draw you. It’s our job to preach and teach and live the Word of God. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” Faith doesn’t come by manipulating people’s emotions and playing on their fears. It comes by faithfully preaching and practicing God’s Word, so that it is lived out in our lives. Is your tongue under Christ’s control, or are you trying to use it to put people under your control? Because if your words are not controlled by Christ’s Word then like a lion you will maul people with manipulation instead of ministering to them with mercy. In marriage many couples have these seemingly out of control fights, but then in the middle of the fight the phone rings and you answer it in this calm and kind voice. What’s going on? You have trained your tongue to treat spouse poorly. If you spoke to people at work the way your do to those in your home, that you say that you love, you would get fired. A test-passing tongue points people to Christ being in control. A test-failing tongue tries to take control. Are there any areas where you are using your tongue to try to control people instead of caring for them?

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