In message 4 of Stay Humble, Hustle Hard, a teaching series on the New Testament book of James, I take a look at the power of the words we say and how we can better control our tongue. You can watch the entire message here and follow along with the summary below:
We all have trouble watching our words, and damage our relationships and our futures in the process.
Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. (James 3:2)
You’ve got to watch your words.
3 REASONS I NEED TO WATCH MY WORDS
Why do I need to watch what I say?
MY WORDS DETERMINE MY DIRECTION. (3-4)
We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. (James 3:3)
A 66-year-old passenger on a flight to Hawaii started to fight with an airline employee over a $12 blanket. He didn’t think he should have to pay for using the blanket because it was so cold on the flight. He said he wanted to take someone behind the woodshed for this! The captain rerouted the plane to Los Angeles to drop him off before beginning to fly over the Pacific Ocean. That $12 blanket changed the direction he was traveling and left him short of his destination. (http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/09/us/hawaiian-airlines-blanket-trnd)
And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. (James 3:4)
The Carnival Cruise Valor weighs 110,000 tons and is nearly 10 football fields long, but a small rudder directs the huge cruise ship out in the middle of the sea. If you don’t like the direction you’re headed, change what you say.
MY WORDS CAN DESTROY MY DESTINY. (5-8)
But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. (James 3:5-6a)
The Bastrop County Complex fire was the most destructive wildfire in Texas history, striking areas of Bastrop County in September and October 2011. Three separate fires started on September 4, 2011, as a result of strong winds caused by nearby Tropical Storm Lee, and merged into one large blaze that burned east of the city of Bastrop. Two people were killed by the fire, which destroyed 1,673 homes and inflicted an estimated $325 million of insured property damage. The fire furthermore caused severe damage to Bastrop State Park and the ancient Lost Pines Forest. After being largely contained in late September, the fire was declared controlled on October 10. The fire moved underground later in October and was finally extinguished on October 29. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bastrop_County_Complex_Fire)
Like a wildfire, your careless words can destroy your marriage, career, reputation, church, or your relationships.
“You have to live with the consequences of everything you say.” Proverbs 18:20
It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. (James 3:6b)
You can set loose “hell itself” with destructive, careless words.
Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble. Proverbs 21:23
People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:7-8)
MY WORDS DISPLAY MY DEVELOPMENT. (9-12)
Our words reveal our character.
Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! (James 3:9-10)
Why are our words so inconsistent? CONSIDER THE SOURCE!
Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. (James 3:11-12)
Whatever is in the well is what comes out in the water.
THE PROBLEM: A HEART CONDITION
For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. Matthew 12:34
But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. Matthew 15:18-19
3 Things I Need to Watch My Words
GET A NEW HEART.
Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Ezekiel 18:31
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new person. The old has passed away. Behold all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
GET GOD’S HELP.
A Daily Prayer: Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips. Psalm 141:3
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
GET AN INTERNAL FILTER.
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29
Give God control of your heart and your mouth and ask Him to help you control what you say.
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. Romans 10:9-10