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Presentation 11. The Structure of the Book Introduction and Trials in the Christian Life (1: 1-8) Happiness in our Circumstances(1: 9-11) Trial, Temptation.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 11. The Structure of the Book Introduction and Trials in the Christian Life (1: 1-8) Happiness in our Circumstances(1: 9-11) Trial, Temptation."— Presentation transcript:

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2 The Structure of the Book Introduction and Trials in the Christian Life (1: 1-8) Happiness in our Circumstances(1: 9-11) Trial, Temptation and Gift (1: 12-18) Hindrances to Fruitfulness(1: 19-21) Doers and Hearers (1: 22-25) True Religion (1: 26-27) Favouritism (2: 1-7) The Royal Law (2: 8-12a) Showing Mercy (2.12b-13] Faith and Works (2:14-26) Teachers and the Tongue (3: 1-12) True and False Wisdom, (3: 13-17) Peacemakers (3: 18) Defeat Through Lack of Submission(4: 1-6) Victory Through Submission(4: 7—10) Judging One Another (4: 11-12) Boasting of Tomorrow (4: 13-17) The Misuse of Wealth(5: 1-6) The Need of Patience (5: 7-12) Appropriate Responses (5:13-16) Restoring the Wanderer (5:17-20) Presentation 11

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4 Introduction How often have you visited the doctor and he's asked to examine your tongue? It’s appearance can give a fair indication of your physical health! However, James tells us our use of the tongue, gives a clear indication of our spiritual health. Our speech reveals the inner attitudes of our hearts, it shows how much control, God has in our lives. Indeed, in v2 we read: "If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he's a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check." James is saying, "When you've won the battle for the control of the tongue you've won through to a place of maturity in your spiritual life. For it is here on our lips that our inner spiritual disorders come out”. It’s for this reason that James is anxious that we are fully aware of the power of the tongue, the damage it can do and the inconsistencies of its behaviour. Presentation 11

5 The Power of the Tongue In order to demonstrate the power the tongue James uses two graphic illustrations. First, in v3 he says the tongue is like a bit in a horse’s mouth. This little apparently insignificant piece of metal enables the rider to harness the direction of the animal. The slightest pressure can make it move in one way or another. And depending upon the skill of the rider the horse can be kept safe or taken into danger. Presentation 11

6 The Power of the Tongue The second illustration in v4 is that of a large ship in a stormy sea. Again it is the comparatively small rudder that determines the direction which the ship will take. Will it end up on the rocks or be led safely into harbour? That depends upon how the helmsman has set his rudder. The ‘bit’ and the ‘rudder’ and the ‘tongue’ are all both small and powerful. The effect they have is determined by who is controlling them. The result can be danger or safety, harm or good. Presentation 11

7 The Power of the Tongue Do we realise how powerful our words can be? After their words have done incalculable damage a person can often be heard to say, "But I didn't do anything, I only said..." But there can be a tremendous power for ill in mere words. Think of the oratory power of Hitler whose Nuremberg addresses whipped up Germany's dream of becoming a master race. Words can influence people to do amazing things. During the Iranian revolution the mullahs were able to stir the people to face the Shah’s tanks with nothing more than a white shroud. Governments, too, around the world have discovered the value of words, they have realised that words can shape people's thinking and motivate their behaviour. Presentation 11

8 The Power of the Tongue The tongue is not only an instrument for ill; it can be a powerful instrument for good. Words can be used to strengthen, encourage, enlighten and inspire. And sometimes years after the event when the speaker is told how helpful his or her words had been, they too may say, "I had no idea the effect my words had." The tongue can be used to great effect, one thinks of the influence of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King or preachers of the gospel like Billy Graham. Countless lives influenced for good. Presentation 11

9 The Power of the Tongue Now note the manner in which James introduces the subject of the tongue in v1, "Not many of you should be presume to be teachers." The danger is that the teacher or preacher, whose stock in trade tends to be words, can be careless in the use of them. Or worse he can exclude himself from the teaching which he seeks to apply to others. And so we are told that he preacher will be judged more strictly. That is an awesome thought. Presentation 11

10 The Power of the Tongue What is it that determines whether our speech brings danger or deliverance, burden or benefit? It depends upon whom is given control of the rudder, the tongue. People sometimes ask, "Why am I always saying the wrong things?" They really mean, "I possess an unbridled tongue." For their speech is not being controlled by the Holy Spirit. They may not yet have discovered the gift of a new nature which God alone imparts. Or they may be a believer who is constantly opening his mouth and putting his foot in it! If so then they are rejecting the promoting of the Holy Spirit within their heart. Self control - and than involves control of our speech - is part of the fruit of the Spirit [Gal 5v23]. They need to learn to co-operate with the Holy Spirit and stop closing their ears to his voice. Presentation 11

11 The Power of the Tongue People say: "I blew up because I was provoked". But there is little virtue in not speaking evil when there is no temptation to do so - although even that is more than some people can manage. But when the circumstances are such that a fierce outburst would be the natural and expected reaction and with the help of the Holy Spirit the tongue is controlled, that is truly a spiritual victory. Presentation 11

12 The Injury of the Tongue In order to show the seriousness of an unbridled tongue James draws some graphic pictures of its destructive power. First in v6 it is described as a raging fire. The Greek word used can mean either, a forest fire or, a blaze in a timber yard. Something started accidentally from a tiny spark can soon become a raging conflagration. James' point is both terrifying and true, that the tongue can without meaning to, start a great fire. A careless and uncontrolled word can do great damage. A large mill building in Paisley, Scotland was destroyed in 20 minutes. And all from a tiny spark! Presentation 11

13 The Injury of the Tongue People often say humorously, "Oh I'm always saying the wrong thing”. Doubtless such people do not mean to start trouble. But their speech they are lobbing incendiary bombs in all directions. They are more dangerous than the careless picnicker who drops lighted matches on the forest floor. Such people shrug their shoulders and say, "Well I suppose I'm just the sort of person who speaks without thinking". Every year 1000s of acres of forest are destroyed by thoughtlessness. But a greater destruction takes place the, 100,000s of lives that are deeply wounded by thoughtless words. ‘Turn around’, says James, ‘and see the charred trail of devastation your carelessness has left behind’. Presentation 11

14 The Injury of the Tongue Why do professing Christians behave in such a way? Why this trail of destruction. In v7, we read that the danger of the tongue lies in the fact that it defies human control. Man prides himself in his ability to tame the animal kingdom. He can tame the tiger but not his tongue. It is this human inadequacy that captures the thought of the apostle Paul in Rom. 7v14ff. "for what I do is not the good I want to do, no, the evil I do not want to do this I keep on doing". To be totally convinced of our own utter helplessness and inability prepares us to cry to God for grace. It persuades us to ask the Holy Spirit to pilot our lives lest we end up shipwrecked. Presentation 11

15 The Injury of the Tongue If v5 speaks of accidental fire raising then v 8b speaks of deliberate mischief and describes the tongue as, "a deadly evil full of deadly poison”. The deadlier the poison the smaller the doze required. Sometimes in answer to the accusation of having an evil tongue the reply is given, "Why, I hardly said a thing." O.K. but it needs only a word from a tongue like that. Indeed sometimes all that is necessary is a change in the tone of the voice, and an innocent man's reputation is dragged through the mud. Hearts are broken! People have ended up as patients in psychiatric wards and others have committed suicide because they were the victims of malicious tongues. Presentation 11

16 The Tongue’s Inconsistency Finally, the treacherous inconsistency of the tongue is exposed. An inconsistency which James cannot find elsewhere in the natural world. He asks can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? No, you say that's impossible it goes against the laws of nature. Then he asks, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Again the answer is no! These too, conform to natural laws. The fruit of a plant is consistent with the nature of the stalk. There is one great inconsistent thing in all of nature, the tongue of man! Presentation 11

17 The Tongue’s Inconsistency How can tongues which have been designed for good and which profess to be yielded to God change from blessing God, to cursing man? A sermon entitled, "Ten Minutes after the Benediction,” describes those who can change gear in a matter of seconds from blessing to berating, from creed to criticism, from worshipping God, to wounding men. How can we praise God one minute and curse men made in his likeness the next? When James speaks of cursing others his meaning includes the bitter, callous, unkind, critical, spiteful, angry, harsh words. It covers backbiting and gossip. Sensitive Christians must surely bow their heads in shame that their tongue should behave in such a manner? Presentation 11

18 The Tongue’s Inconsistency Before conversion to Christ all a man has is a sinful nature and his speech betrays that fact. But when Christ takes up residence in his heart, he gives him a new new nature which should express itself through his mouth. The Christian will share the Psalmists longing that, ‘the words of his mouth and the meditation of his heart would be pleasing to God’ [Ps.19v14]. He rejoices in the words of Isaiah that, "The Lord has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to them that are weary” [Isa. 50v4]. Presentation 11

19 Conclusion The Christian should determine daily to put to death the old nature that wants to use his tongue for more sinister purposes. Paul writes, “They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.” [Gal 5.24]. Sidlaw Baxter commenting on this passage writes: “One of the first things that happen when a man is really filled with the Spirit is not that he speaks with tongues, but that he learns to hold the one tongue he already has”. The marvellous miracle of grace is that an unbridled tongue can be transformed into an instrument of blessing for men. No man can tame the tongue but God can if ask him! Presentation 11


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