Nov 25, 2018 – What Our Words Reveal
Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series – James: Distilling Faith
James 3:1-12 (ESV)
1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
The practice of confession will help you grow such that you make progress with integrity of speech.
1. Confess your sin
- v8 “… no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil…”
- vv9-12 – what comes out of our mouths manifests what is deep within us
2. Confess your need
- v2 “For we all stumble in many ways”
- vv3-8 – we get ourselves into trouble and cause great damage because of our inability to control our words
3. Confess your faith
- v2 “if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man”
- v9 “with it we bless our Lord”
- commit to verbalizing all that is good, true, hopeful, etc. in our faith
Questions for Reflection
- Do you feel you have control of your words? How often do you regret what you say? In what kinds of situations are you particularly prone to saying things you otherwise wouldn’t?
- How do you feel when you restrain your words (when you choose not to say what you want to, or feel you should, say)? What do you do with those feelings (how do you process it)?
- How do you use words to effect things? Are you self aware, when you speak, of what you are hoping your words will accomplish? How much of what you say has the intent to build up, encourage, help, clarify, etc., and how much is intended to hurt, embarrass, insult, vent? How often is your speech a way of manipulating or controlling things?
- Do you believe you are in control of what you say? Why or why not?
- How can you seek God for help? What do healthy patterns of looking to God look like when we recognize through our speech that our hearts are still sinful?
- Do you ever confess your sins to another human being? What things should you be acknowledging verbally before others? What are challenges to doing this? What steps do you need to take to make this part of your life?
- What do you think are the fundamental truths of Christianity that we need to confess (remember, acknowledge, speak)? What are various ways (or contexts) to speak these things in the course of your life?
- Reflect on how the practices of confessing your sins, confessing your need, and confessing your faith work together? When and how do you do this in your life? How do you do these practices so that they are a means of growth, of spiritual progress?
Prayer of Confession
Our Father in heaven, we confess our sin. Our words reveal that foolish passions are still at work in our hearts, and that our thoughts, desires and feelings are corrupt. We confess our need. We know the good that we should do, but continually find ourselves unable to do it with any consistency. We often do what we know we should not. We acknowledge how little control we have over ourselves, and need your help. But Lord, we also confess our faith. We believe that you are merciful and kind, forgiving the sinner. We believe the good word of the gospel has power to transform our hearts and minds. We remember Christ now, and appeal to you for help in him. Amen.