It seems that lately you can’t hardly turn on the television without hearing about some new development in the moral decay of the Pentecostal Church. More and more accusations are being hurled at pastors regarding sexual misconduct. In no way shape or form am I defending what these pastors allegedly did, but every time I hear of these things, my heart breaks in two. The reason being is because the eyes of the world are watching, and perhaps thinking,
This morning I want to bring your attention to another matter that is plaguing the church of the Living God. One that hasn’t popped up as of late, but has been around since the foundation of the church. What’s the problem? The inability for God’s people to tame their tongue. You may be asking yourself, “How does that compare to what’s going on within the Pentecostal church?” Because the eyes and ears of the ungodly are watching and listening. They are hearing good Christian people verbally lash one another all the while wondering, “If I was in that church, would they talk about me like that?”
Someone coined the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Whoever said that could have never been more wrong. Broken bones heal much quicker than the wounds left by an out of control tongue. I know people to this day, and those that are there this morning, who are still suffering from the aftermath of a tongue lashing. Today I met one of my friends, he and I sat down for a talk, and he told me that some of the most encouraging words he’d ever heard came from Christian people. Then he went on to say that some of the most hurtful words ever spoken against him came from good Christian people.
You see, our tongue can either burn the Kingdom of God, or it can build it. Simply by what comes out of our mouths can destroy what God is trying to accomplish in and through a ministry, or it can build it. So this morning I want to ask you, “Is your tongue productive or destructive?”
Our Scripture text this morning comes from the book of James. The book of James’ theme has been labeled by many scholars and theologians as “practical Christian living.” James speaks more about the tongue than any other book in the Bible. If James is truly a book for practical Christian living, then there must be something essential about the tongue and living an effective Christian life.
Read James 3:2-10 (KJV). ‘2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
When God created man, He gave us two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and one mouth which contains one big fish; the tongue. The eyes, ears and nostrils help make us aware of our surroundings. They are what we utilize to observe our world, and our tongue is what we use to comment on those surroundings. Could it be that God wants us, by design, to observe twice as much as we speak? I don’t know, but it is something to think about.
Anyway, God has given us the ower of the spoken word. And I believe that is why many people today are in bondage. The sense of conflict that they experience can be traced back to their tongues. What do you mean? Well, the Bible clearly teaches a principle of sowing and reaping. If you sow corn, you will reap corn. If you sow black-eyed peas, you will reap black-eyed peas. If you sow words of destruction, you will reap destruction. If you sow words of life, you will reap life.
There is power in the spoken word. It will be your tongue that will shape your character. There are Christian people that I know who are always negative. They have nothing positive to say. Their demeanor, or the way they carry themselves, reflects this. Please get this in your spirit, a person will eventually get what his or her mouth says. If you say, “I can”, then you will. If you say, “I cannot”, then you will not be able to do whatever you set out to do. If you talk negatively, then you will get negative results because your words create a negative environment, which will produce negative results. And the opposite is true.
Try this experiment. For the next 48 hours, determine within yourself that you will speak only positive and hopeful things about your job, your children, your spouse, your health, your future, anything and everything that affects your life. It may be difficult at first, but see what type of results you get.
As I said before, your tongue will reflect your true character. Your words will reveal the real you. In fact James again addresses this issue for those who consider themselves “religious”. In James 1:26, he says, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are just fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” It is interesting that the word for “religious” in the Greek actually translates as “fearing and worshipping God”. So in essence James is saying, if you claim to fear and worship God and don’t control your tongue, you are kidding yourself and your worship is worthless. We find later in chapter 3 why. The same tongue blesses or worships God, and then turns around and lashes a brother or sister in Christ. The next statement I believe comes from the heart of God. “These things should not be so”. The reason being is because by doing so, we are not reflecting the true heart and nature of God to the lost.
Just as our opening verse says “we all make mistakes”. Now, the world may not know very much about God, but I think they do know that Christians are supposed to respond to people’s mistakes differently than they do. Right now, the word on the street is that Christians shoot their own wounded. Those in the world may be saying to themselves, “if I am going to get treated the same way in the church that I do outside of it, I’ll just stay out.” Friends, “these things should not be so.”
The Bible goes further to compare the tongue to fire, an unruly evil full of deadly poison. The tongue is capable of edifying, or building up, and is capable of burning down. Although it is a small part of our body, it is capable of starting big fires. What seem to be harmless words can devastate and destroy families, marriages, friendships, countries, nations, and yes, even churches.
A lot of people would not be where they are now, if they had not engaged in a particular conversation. A lot of people would still be friends today if they could have glued their lips together. A lot of homes would still be together if couples were a little more careful with their words. Many adults’ lives would be shaped differently if they weren’t the victims of childhood verbal abuse. See, we try to bring the principles of our world into the church. I believe that ALL churches suffer from this. The reason being is that we as people have the mindset of “freedom of speech”. We can say whatever we want to, whenever we want to, to whomever we want to. We think that we have the right to speak our minds. Now, there is nothing wrong with speaking our minds, as long as that mind has been transformed and renewed by the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit.
Even the Bible says that we in ourselves cannot control our tongues. That is why Paul says that we need to be under the control of the Holy Spirit. We must die to ourselves daily, a choice we make every day, and allow the Lord to rule in our lives. When your tongue is under the control of God, you will speak God’s words, but when it is under the control of the flesh and the devil, you may speak God’s words for a little while, but eventually, you will speak the devil’s words. We see this very thing in Matthew 16:23. As Jesus and the disciples are traveling, Jesus was telling them of His pending death. Peter says, “Far be it from You Lord; this shall not happen to You”. Jesus turned and said, “Get thee behind me Satan”. Satan wasn’t standing there, Peter was. Peter wasn’t possessed, but he allowed his tongue to speak the devil’s words.
Proverbs 13:3 says, “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.” So again, this morning I want to ask you, “Is your tongue productive or destructive? Is it burning or building the Kingdom of God?” Here are a few signs of a tongue that is destructive.
A TONGUE THAT IS DESTRUCTIVE
1. SPEAKS IDLE OR CARELESS WORDS
Jesus says in Matthew 12:36 that we will give an account of judgment day for every idle words we speak. The word “idle” in the Greek means “lazy; free from work”. That means to me that every word that I speak that doesn’t produce some good, I will held accountable for.
A person who gossips is the devil’s broadcasting station. Paul describes someone who on our tongues. God takes the power of the tongue seriously. For example, the prophet Isaiah got a vision that he was dwelling among people with unclean lips and an angel had to take a hot coal of fire from the alter and put it on his tongue to cleanse it. There must have been something wrong with his tongue that would have prevented Isaiah from representing God.
When God passed judgment on those who were building the Tower of Babel, He disrupted their work by confusing their tongue. When the Holy Spirit fell in Acts chapter 2, the first port call He made was the tongue. Friends, to live an effective Christian walk, and to have a positive impact on this world, we must subject our tongue to the power and control of the Holy Spirit.
A TONGUE THAT IS PRODUCTIVE
1. EXERCISES PROFITABLE SILENCE
The Bible ways there is a time and season for everything under the sun, there is a time to keep silent (Ecclesiastes 3:7). However, this has been turned upside down. People talk when they should be silent, and keep quiet when they should speak. The Bible further teaches that we should be “quick to hear and slow to speak.”
Think about this – Jesus who is our ultimate example was placed on trial for heresy. He was in the right, yet He kept silent. Remember this, if you are quiet, nobody can quote or misquote you, or repeat what you did not say. “A closed mouth gathers no foot.” Sometimes it is just best to be quiet.
2. DOES NOT GOSSIP – already been there
3. IS ADDICTED TO WITNESSING
A tongue that is productive continually wants to build and expand the Kingdom of God. In order to do that, the Gospel must be shared with others. But more so than that, the Gospel must be lived through words and actions that reflect Christ in the appropriate light.
A life that has been transformed and changed by Christ should want to tell others.
4. SPEAKS THE TRUTH IN LOVE
A careful study of Christ’s ministry will reveal that Christ not only spoke what was true, but He did so with love. By doing so, the person He spoke to came to the conclusion that what they were involved in wasn’t right on their own.
Paul further instructs us that if we speak with tongues of men and angels and have not love, we are just making a lot of senseless noise.
5. DOES NOT GRUMBLE AND COMPLAIN
In the wilderness, the children of Israel experienced some of the greatest manifestations of God. Yet, they grumbled and complained. In fact, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:10 that the reason some of the Israelites died was because of their constant murmuring and complaining.
A tongue that is productive and constructive gives God praise for all that He is done. In all things give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
6. MAKES POSITIVE CONFESSIONS
If you as a Christian talk doubt, doubt will conquer you. If you talk failure, it will conquer you. If you talk sickness, you will reap sickness. If you talk weakness, you will become weak. If you talk poverty, you will move in and out of poverty. If you talk fear, it will grip you. If you talk bad about your marriage, it will get worse.
We shouldn’t use our tongues to glorify a bad situation. Instead, we should think and speak positive things. Remember the whole sowing and reaping principle.
7. CONTINUALLY PRAISES THE LORD
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. – Psalms 34:1
Friends, if you want to see God move in your life, then continually praise Him. The Word of God teaches us that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people.
Ask yourself the following question – “What have I been saying with my mouth?” Be assured that the words you speak will shape your life. The life you are experiencing and leading now has been shaped by what you said in the past. This is why the Bible says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. The tongue can kill and it can bring life. It can give hope to the hopeless and point the way to God. It can make or break relationships, make or mar your children, heal or kill a church, and attract or repel people from Christ.
Again, the Bible compares and untamed tongue to hell’s fire. But there is another fire, the might burning fire of the Holy Ghost. That is the kind of fire the church is hungry for and desperately needs. I have always heard that the best way to fight fire is with fire. So we let’s worship the Lord, and ask the Holy Spirit to burn out all the junk and restore relationships, friendships, marriages, and yes restore the church. Amen!!!!!!!!!