Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

31. Test 6: The Tongue Test – Part 4

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James series – “The Litmus Test for life”

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.

The fifth and final characteristic of a test-failing tongue is that it is:

  • Compromising (9-12)

A lady asked the man working in the grocery store produce department if she could buy a half a head of lettuce. He looked at her like she was crazy. “Half a head—God grows them as whole heads. That’s how we sell them.” But she insisted, so he went to ask the manager. When he got to where the manager was, he said, “You won’t believe what happened. Back in produce there is this crazy old battleaxe who wants to buy half a head of lettuce.” The manager flushed and pointed to the lady who had apparently followed him and was standing behind him. Without missing a beat, the produce man said, “And this nice lady wants to know if she can have the other half.” Many of us have learned how to be politicians and salesmen instead of sold out servants of Jesus Christ. We work at trying to word things so that we come out looking the best. But it’s nothing knew, it’s the first thing you see after the fall. What did Adam do when God asked him if he had eaten the forbidden fruit? He double deflected. Blaming both his wife and God because he knew that God had made him responsible for her. He was being a politician, trying to word things in such a way as to make himself look good. But what happens when you do that? You end up bringing others down to make yourself look good. Instead of lovingly protecting her he threw her under the bus to look better. Why do blessings and cursing come out of the same mouth? Why would a person bow their head for grace at the restaurant and then turn right around and cuss the waiter for messing up your order? Because you think it makes you look good. You pray because it makes you look good before God and you cuss the waiter because you can’t have him making you look bad. I’ll show him who’s boss. A test-passing tongue doesn’t compromise your relationship with others or compromise the integrity of God. It doesn’t word things to make you look best, but to show love and give God the glory. Mature believers have words that are consistent not compromising. James started with the truth that we are all teachers, so let me ask you what lessons are your lips teaching? Are your words criticizing and condemning? Are you manipulating and control people like chess pieces or moving people toward God. Do you light fires of gossip or fan their flames? Are you spreading righteousness or rumors? Does your language glorify God or sound like garbage? Because people who walk in truth don’t talk trash. Does your speech compromise God and put others down so you can look good? Do you speak words of praise or spit wounding poison? 

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