Text: James 3:1-12
We are done discussing about faith accompanied by action. Today, it is still related to it but today, we will be focusing on the most powerful muscle of the body, the tongue. We will be learning today that even how small it is, it can be both helpful and destructive.
Our passage today was started by these words:
“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone who is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” (v. 1-2)
This part puzzled me a little bit since these words are not very encouraging to hear. While we almost encourage everybody to become teachers, here is a passage that tells us or discourage us in becoming teachers. But to fully understand the passage, we have to take a closer look in its context so that we may comprehend what is being said by James.
The Bible always teaches us that we have to become mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1). And as we become mature and complete, it encourages us to become teachers of God’s word by telling others about Jesus. However, obviously there were Christians who seems to know lots of things, but when it comes to application to their own lives, living righteously has become so difficult to do.
Thus, the passage is actually telling us that there is a call for “wise” teachers and not for foolish teachers. Each teacher should know and comprehend what he teaches. Thus, James reminds us to ask for wisdom for teachers will be judged more stricly.
Tongue Is Small, But Powerful (v.5)
Tongue is such a small part of the body. However, even science agree that it is also one of the strongest muscle of the body.
In our passage, James quoted two examples where we can compare the power of the tongue. Verse 3 gives us the bits of the horses. Though it is small, it can direct the horse where should it go. Verse 4 gives us the ship. Ships no matter how big it is, you’ll see in them that there is a small part of it which is called a “rudder”. It is a mechanical device / part which guides a vessel such as a ship for steering when in motion. Ships are huge sea vessels, yet only a very small rudder controls it.
So as the tongue. A very small part of the body yet can guide people in their lives. In the previous passages that we already quoted several Sundays ago even told us that tongue is like a sword that can kill. Sometimes it is like a sweet aroma that gives a nice fragrance as it praises someone yet is like a deadly poison when it comes from evil.
Tongue Is Small But Can Be A Huge Fire (v.6)
Tongue is being kept cool by our saliva. And if you try to touch it, is warm but not hot despite of the fact that our body temperatures sometimes rises. James once again made a simile comparing the tongue into a small fire.
Forest are huge areas of trees. But just imagine during dry season, it can be burned by just a lit of a small fire. Similarly, a tongue can indeed be very destructive not only to once life, but sometimes, even to the lives of many people.
Tongue Can Tame, But Hard To Tame (v.8)
Taming a wild horse is probably hard. So as taming a snake, a lizard, a bear, or any other wild animals. And sometimes even after taming, these animals are very temperament and is very hard to control when their animalistic instinct rises.
How do we tame animals? We tame animals not only through our skills of taming but also in talking, in communicating with the animals. Training a dog or a cat is not easy. We do this also by communicating to the animals. Though they cannot talk, we have to learn how to let the animals what we want them to understand. And in all these, we use the tongue.
But guess what, we can tame all other beasts as long as we want to, but the Bible says the tongue is always harder to tame. This is very true especially when we are talking about people who just came from an environment where the use of bad words are almost normal.
Tongue Can Worship, But Can Also Curse (v.10)
We use the tongue in praising God. In fact, it is very easy to say “Praise the Lord”, “Hallelujah”, “Amen”. But sometime we just utter all these things without even knowing its meaning. Saying all these is a form of worship to God.
Sometimes however, after being in the church worshipping God, then we go back to our homes with untamed tongues and began cursing members of the family. Saying all discouraging things against one another, using it to destroy the credibility of others, telling stories against others with malice, etc.
Tongue, is one of the main parts of our bodies that can give wonderful things to others and to God, yet it is also one of the dirtiest parts of the body that can kill and do all kinds of evil against others.
Decide now where we are going to use our tongues.