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Words that hurt and words that heal....

We’re continuing today our third message from James’ Epistle.

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.  We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.  When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.  Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.  All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind,  but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” James 3:1-12, NIV

So again, James speaks in very practical, easy to understand way to the first Christians— a group of people who were alive when Jesus was alive and may even have seen Him before the ascension—about how to speak. Like all of us, from time to time,  they needed to be reminded about the basics in courtesy….the essential matter of keeping our focus upon our Lord and Savior…and being ever wary of the chief sin of mankind—pride.

Think about the things wrong in your marriage, in your relationship with your  children, within this church, and in our nation, and you can’t deny that  its all connected to things that should not have been said or that should have been said.   For whatever perverse reason,  we just can’t resist getting that last word in or, if we think we’re losing the argument, to say something to the other that really  penetrates the skin and wounds their heart.  Most of us, not all of us, but most of us, probably talk to much and listen to little.  And every one of us would have more friends and fewer enemies if we had refrained from saying something that was not needed in the past.

“Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”  What does that mean? Your source cannot be Jesus Christ and at the same time spew out meannness, unkindness, venomous threats, insults or obscenities!  What you say comes from that source, deep within you, that reveals who, and whose, you really are.  You can learn a lot more by listening to what people say, how they say it, and when they say than by simply listening to their testimony or their prayers.

I know that some people think that my sermons are too short. But I labor over these sermons to be sure that  I am choosing the few words wisely. Yes! I want to choose few words—but the few that count. Few words that can make impact. Few words that say a lot. Few words that can make people take an inventory of their walk with Christ.  Few words can make an eternal impression.  We should think before we speak and perhaps exercise an economy of how long we speak.

Before you your mouth to correct someone, or  tell them “just what you really think”, remember please, you can’t take it back.  We always have a choice when we speak. God has given us the incredible freedom to choose our words. Some words bring darkness and despair, and are rooted in in hate or fear. Some words bring light and hope, and are rooted in love. We have words that are never released, and words that should never have been released. We have words that build up, and ones that tear down. Read Ecclesiastes!

The Bible has a lot to say about our speech. Think about these passages. “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity” -Prov 21:23 NIV.  Amen!  If you’re in trouble with someone  right now, is it because of something they said, or you said, that did not need to be said?!

“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…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” -Matt 12:33-34.  Your words tell the world who you are here, where your imagination, what you are glued to on your laptop or computer, and who your Lord is.

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” -Prov 12:18.  You can’t undo that wound, once you’ve inflicted it.  You can say you’re sorry, but a wound takes time to heal! I don’t have time for it—-and neither do you!  Don’t waste your days trying to prove you did not say the mean thing you said or apologizing for it!

Don’t say anything unkind or hurtful unless it truly needs to be said!  The best rule of mind is to ask yourself: Is what I am saying truly helpful…. in love….gently and humbly offered….and essential to say?  If not, “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” -Psalm 141:3!!!

When James remarks that, “No human being can tame the tongue”, it’s a wake up call! Try as we might, no human, can properly control what they say all the time, so we’d  better do one of two things, sort speaking altogether, or claim what Jesus said in Matthew 19:26:  “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Only the power of the Holy Spirit can enable you to consistently speak from God’s perspective—-instead of a self serving,  vengeful and prideful mindset.

Regardless of who you are, and where you are in your spiritual pilgrimage—a child, teenager, young adult, or an older adult—God’s Word cannot be undone or proven wrong. Think about these verses—-the very passages James no doubt knew quite well:

David, who loved God so completely, prayed like this: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. . Psalm 19:14 NASB Are my words, your words—-this past week—-acceptable and pleasing to God?…keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies!  Psalm 34:13 NLT

Why does the Bible tell us the same truths time and time agagin?!…:Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips”. Psalm 141:3 NIV  …”Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” Proverbs10:19 NLT…The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice, but the tongue that deceives will be cut off.  Proverbs 10:31 …The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.  Proverbs 13:3 NASB

The tongue is a tool or a weapon—it depends who is using it and how it is used. A lot of us say things we don’t need to say and need to immerse ourselves into His word! You cannot be a student of the Bible and say that you’ve never heard about the dangers of not controlling your tongue! And you cannot be in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ while at the same time have no control of the bad things you say.

Instead, think of the good your words can do and how people can turn from hate to hope because of the right word at the right time.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1 NASB. Your gracious, cultivated, reasonable words can change the tone and outcome of a meeting or confrontation or of a fight. If you are willing and connected to the Holy Spirit. “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24 NIV.   “He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”  Proverbs 17:27 NASB Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances. Proverbs 25:11 NASB

Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land. Proverbs 25:25 NIV

The most celebrated woman in this sanctuary, according to the Bible, is the  one, who, “When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” Proverbs 31:26 NLT .  That is the woman that will not only bless her husband, but also her family, her church and her neighborhood.

Nearly every challenge within the body of Christ, and in Christian families, has to do with what we say to each other.  Brothers and sisters in Christ! “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23 NLT.  “Do you see a person who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”Proverbs 29:20 NASB

Jesus had very stern warnings about our attitudes and our mouths. He said,  “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”  Matthew 12:36 NASB.  “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”  Matthew 15:11 NLT

Paul added, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 NIV

Do you want to be happy and keep this church happy?  Peter said this: “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.” 1 Peter 3:10 NLT

PRACTICE SPEAKING WORDS THAT WILL ENCOURAGE, COMFORT, EDIFY, AND INSPIRE and ask the Holy Spirit to help you control what you say.  We’ll all be better because of it.

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