Stewardship of the Tongue

Faith Church October 31, 2009 James 3:1-12

 

Introduction:

#1:  DISCUSS the Stewardship Commitment Card – explain how using the INTERNET will save hours of human resources putting the info into Shelby database

- some have already pledged an amount, you may want to consider INCREASING it

- some are NEW to our church, and have not yet made a commitment

NOTE: Our emphasis is NOT equal giving, but equal sacrifice!

- Also, emphasize the willingness to SERVE and produce FRUIT, MORE FRUIT, MUCH FRUIT

#2:  Discuss our Stewardship Banquet [this is one of those “ALL HANDS ON DECK” times of participation!]

- let’s do a quick review and get our subject of Stewardship this morning!

* Quick Review:

  • Stewardship = God-given responsibility with accountability!

“. . . We do not choose to become stewards, we are stewards! 

The question is, ‘What kind of steward are you?’”

Q: What are the 4 Factors in Stewardship? [Matthew 25]

#1:  God Owns Everything, and I Own Nothing.

#2:  God Entrusts Me with Everything I Have.

#3:  I Am Responsible to Increase What God Has Given to Me. I May Increase It or
Diminish It.

#4:  God Can Call Me into Account at Any Time.

1.  With those thoughts in mind, let me ask you to turn to James 3

  • James, the ½ brother of Jesus, gives us an awesome explanation of the tongue –the most lengthy passage about this particular subject
  • through the use of graphic analogies, he has given us the most penetrating exposition of the tongue anywhere in literature – sacred or secular

[READ  James 3:1-12]

2.  You read this passage and you can’t help but to think:  * There is an incredible amount of “intrinsic power in the tongue.

  • Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
  • Proverbs 28:23 He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue.
  •  “Never doubt the power of the tiny tongue – and never underestimate it!”

3.  Of course, * Jesus ‘connected’ the tongue to the heart!

  • Matthew 15:18 "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.”

- There is a lot of emphasis in the bible on the tongue, our words, or our ‘mouth’

> it can help us bring glory to God OR it can destroy our testimony (as a CHILD of God, as a SPOUSE, as PARENT, as a CHURCH or as a WORKMAN in the Workplace!)

4.  That’s why this is such an important area of stewardship

-  God gave us our tongue … and the ability to communicate

-  This issue is: What kind of a steward are you? (in this area)

5.  Let’s look at *Three principles that will help us to be GOOD STEWARDS of our TONGUE

#1:  Remember that Controlling the Tongue Is a True Test of One’s Spirituality!

  • James 1:26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.
  • Like a skilled surgeon, James cuts right to the heart of the issue of genuine Christianity
  • He attacks (head on) the pride, self-righteousness, and self-satisfied “religious” person
  • Jesus had some very direct statements to offer us in this area:
  • Matthew 12:33 "Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”
    • Jesus makes it clear– the tongue will eventually reveal what is in the heart!”
    • Listen to a person long enough and you will know the character of that person!

Point:  Your words are a mirror of your inner man – How does it look?

  • This is especially true when a person is under pressure – because:

A.  Pressure doesn’t MAKE you, it REVEALS you so that you can then change and grow!

- James isn’t talking about perfection – or that those who sometimes fall into this sin have a worthless religion

> we all blow it at times (though the principle is still true: the tongue reveals the heart)

- James is saying that if anyone’s tongue is HABITUALLY unbridled – though his church attendance is perfect, his bible knowledge is incredible – his prayers exemplary – his tithes generous/faithful – and thought he “considers himself religious . . . he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

- Another principle that flows out of this is: 

B.  Be careful about following those who do not control their tongues!

- The proverb of “iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the life of this friend” cuts both directions – positive and negative!

- your friends can help or hinder your growth – and YOU can help/hinder their growth!

C.  Let’s ask some questions:

  • How would others rate you about your ability to control your tongue?
  • Do you talk too much?
  • Do you say to people’s faces what you would never say behind their backs? Or, do you say behind their backs what you would never say to their face?
  • Do you have the “gift” of a sharp tongue?
  • In what way(s) you function as if you view it as your job to set everybody straight?

 

- the second principle is this:

#2:  Recognize the Destructive Uses of the Tongue!

  • This is what James is referring to in James 3:9-10
  • James 3:9 With it (i.e. the tongue)we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
    • it’s interesting that James does not tell us HOW the tongue’s destructive power is demonstrated in human speech
    • He knows that the spiritual mind (informed by the Truth) will have no problem in making the connections
    • Since we have the whole body of Truth, let’s look at some specific ways our tongue can be destructive:
    • Gossip
  • I thinks it’s also interesting that you don’t have to look far in the NT (even in the early church) to find the sin of gossip

gossip” =

(1) Speaking to someone about an issue of which they are neither part of the problem nor a part of the solution!

(2) Saying things about someone behind their back that you would never say to their face

(3) Discussing details about a problem with a person without FIRST going to the person with whom you had the problem

  • Proverbs 18:8 The words of a whisperer (gossip) are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body.
  • Gossip often veils itself in acceptable reasoning such as:
  • Have you heard . . . ?
  • Did you know that . . .?
  • I do not believe it is true, but I heard that . . . ?
  • I would tell you, except that I now it will go no further.”
  • I am telling you this so you can pray about this with me!

Quote:  “This seems so pious, but the heart that feeds on hearing evil reports is tool of Hell, and it leaves flaming fires in its wake.”

*  Putting down gossip is one of a deacon’s responsibility (Acts 6)

  1. Criticism/Cutting Others Down
  2. It’s so easy for us to find fault with each other
  3. We like to maximize the weaknesses of others so we don’t look so bad ourselves!
  4. If we were honest, we’d have to say that much of our criticism is nothing short of simply being self-righteous and judgmental!

Note: To the person who would say, “My talent is to speak my mind,” you might want to say, “That is one talent God wouldn’t mind if you buried!”

  • Look at James 4:11
  • James 4:11 Do not speak against one another, brethren (lit. “do not speak down on one another). He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it.
  • We have to be careful of this not only in the sense of telling something that is NOT TRUE about another person (lying/gossip)
  • But also to be careful even if what we are saying is true:  Remember – Matthew 12:34!
  • Matthew 12:34 You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”
  • Many believers use truth as a license to righteously “pick apart” another’s reputation
  • It’s one thing to lovingly and graciously confront – it’s another thing to try to “set everybody straight” on issue in which you THINK a person is wrong!

Quote:  There are many sinful reasons why brothers/sisters in Christ talk down one another.  Revenge over some slight, real or imagined, may be the motivation of “Christian” slander.  Others imagine that their spirituality and sensitivity equips them to pull others from their pedestals and unmask their hypocrisies.  Gideon once righteously cried, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”, and we may do the same, but in our case it is too often a sword of self-righteousness.”

C.  Complaining (unthankful)

- one of areas where we can really be bad stewards is in the area of ingratitude!

- even in light of ALL the things that God has done, is doing, and promises to do in the future!

Input: What do we have to be thankful for today? [various answers]

Salvation // grace // health // food // clothing

  • 1 Timothy 6:8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

Q: Then why are we so unthankful for ALL that God is doing?

> the effects of the curse of sin on our ability to think and reason

> our covetous thinking (I want more, I want it better)

- Repeat James 3:6

  • James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

#1:  Remember that Controlling the Tongue Is a True Test of One’s Spirituality!

#2:  Recognize the Destructive Uses of the Tongue

  • and finally, in order to be a good steward of what God has entrusted to us, a person not only has to “put off’ sinful habits (destructive uses), but he/she must “put on” principle oriented living by

#3:  Replace the Destructive Tongue with a Disciplined Tongue

  • James 3:10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
  • the first step is solving a problem is to admit you have one
  • the next step is to apply the principle of 1 John 1:9:
  • 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness  [and then takes some steps of growth…]

- let’s think aboutsome ‘PUT ON’S’ in the use of our tongues:

A.  Stewardship of proclaiming the Gospel! (the message of salvation!)

  • Romans 10:14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!"
  • I’m convinced that if we were more preoccupied with PROCLAIMING the power of the Gospel, we would have a lot less time to sit around and be critical and fuss about other people or life situations we don’t like!
  • The responsibility and privilege of spreading the “good news” of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ belongs to us
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
  • You know why some people are so critical – they have too much time on their hands – they look at life through their eyes instead of the eyes of Christ
  • Matthew 9:36 And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.
  • The tongue should also be used to proclaim the greatest story about the greatest Person!!

B.  Stewardship of the power of progressive sanctification

  • i.e. that, after salvation, people can grow and change
  • salvation is the beginning of the Christian life – not the climax [that will come when He comes:
  • 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

ILL:  I was asked to speak at the Work Release Program @ Tippecanoe County Jail – I asked those attending a question:  What would you say to someone who had said of you, “Ah, you’ll never change.  You’ll always be a __________?”

>  Their response was quick:  ANYBODY can change – if they want to bad enough!

  • That’s good theology (with God’s grace)
  • And God told us that it was possible – in fact, it’s a command: 
  • 1 Timothy 4:7 . . . discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.

POINT: If we spent more or our time using our tongue to help people GROW than we did using our tongue to gripe, complain, gossip or slander …. God would be glorified and His people edified (built up) and more effective in our ministry together!

C.  Stewardship of the ability to comfort

- Paul addressed this very subject to the church at Corinth:

  • 2 Corinthians 7:5 For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more.
  • I think part of bringing “comfort” to one another is expressing gratitude for the sacrificial service of others

Example:  When is the last time you wrote a THANK YOU NOTE to someone serving in our church ministry?

(name specific ministries – Children’s Workers, Youth Workers, Volunteers for _______?

  • Let’s check our gratitude levels this morning
  • Comfort can come in times of trials – just letting someone know you are praying for them!

 

-  Lastly,

D.  Stewardship of the ability to worship

  • we have, with God’s grace, the ability to ascribe to God proper worth-ship!
  • Both in His character (Who He is) and His Works (what He’s done)
  • Hebrews 13:15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
  • It’s interesting how thankfulness is connected to worship!
  • This is what James meant when he said, “out of the same mouth comes blessings and cursing” – these thingsought not to be!

Q: How often do you worship God with your tongue?

 

Conclusion:

1.  What do you need to ‘put-off’ regarding your tongue, and what do you need to ‘put on’ to be a better steward of your tongue?

-  Remember the 4th principle of stewardship:

#4:  God Can Call Me into Account at Any Time.

2.  Here’s what Jesus said about the 4th principle of stewardship and the tongue:

  • Matthew 12:36 "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”

Faith Church