There is a weapon that is more powerful than any other weapon known to man. And it has been in existence since the creation of mankind; it has been known to start wars, ruin friendships, spars national revolutions. It has ruined more reputations, wrecked more homes, split more churches, driven more men out of the ministry and caused more hatred than any other weapon in the world.
Contrary to popular opinion…the most powerful weapon in the world is not the atomic bomb…nor is it some laser beam aimed from outer space. Indeed it is not even a weapon made by man.
Concealed as a sniper, quick as a bullet and deadly as a gun it is the three inch animal that lives in a pool of saliva behind an ivory cage of teeth known as the tongue.
There is incredibly awesome power in the tongue.
ILLUSTRATION: Once there was a lady who was the most notorious gossip in the church. One day, she came down the aisle one Sunday morning and took her minister by the hand and said, "I am really burdened…the Lord has convicted me of my gossip and I want to change." And the minister said, "Well, what do you intend to do about it." She said, "I want to lay my tongue on the altar." The minister said, "Honey, I don't think we've got an altar big enough."
James tells that the tongue is a small animal that packs a great wallop.
THIS MORNING, WE WILL EXPLORE SOME BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES ON THE TONGUE.
FIRST, LETS LOOK AT HOW IMPORTANT THE TONGUE IS.
THE TONGUE DETERMINES OUR ETERNAL DESTINY.
"But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:36-37).
Our words will either justify or condemn us. Think about it. This same law is common to man. A man is judged to be guilty or not guilty based on testimony, that is, by his words.
If we use ugly, dirty, filthy, angry, spiteful, gossiping, grumbling, and murmuring words, then we are in trouble. In the end, these words will testify against us and condemn us in the day of judgment.
On the other hand, if we use kind, gracious, loving, edifying, and profitable words, then in the end, these words will testify for us and justify us in the day of judgment.
So how important are our tongues? They determine our eternal destination.
May we all guard our tongues, so that we will obtain eternal life.
THE TONGUE EXPOSES WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE WE ARE.
"You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him" (Matthew 12:34-35).
Jesus says that our words expose our heart…it tells what kind of person we are.
Our words expose one of three things about us. We either have the heart of a viper (v. 34); a heart of an evil man (v. 35); a heart of a good man (v. 35).
You see, our words expose our true nature…what lies beneath the surface…what is deep down within our heart…our motives, desires, and ambitions. Our words expose our true character: whether good or bad, kind or cruel.
Listen to what James tells us in (James 1:26):
"If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless."
It doesn't matter if you are a Sunday school teacher, a deacon, an elder, or a preacher. If you do not have control over your tongue…James says that your religion is worthless.
If we want to be considered a good people, Christian role models, spiritually mature follower's of Christ, then we must have control over our tongues.
SECOND, LET'S EXAMINE THE DANGEROUS ASPECTS OF THE TONGUE.
THE TONGUE DESTROYS.
"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" (James 3:5).
The tongue is a torch. It is like a spark in a forest of dead trees.
ILLUSTRATION: On October 8, 1871 in a barn in Chicago, a cow by the name of Mrs. O'Leary accidentally kicked over a lantern. That lantern fell into some hay, the hay caught on fire and from that the fire spread…and when the fire was over, over 100,000 people were left homeless…17,500 buildings were destroyed…300 people died…and it cost the city over 400 million dollars…Just because of one spark.
So often, one inappropriate word can cause a lot of damage. I wonder how many friendships have been ruined…how many fellowships have been destroyed…by the careless arsonist called gossip.
We must realize that one careless word can create everlasting damage. The tongue destroys.
THE TONGUE DEFILES.
"The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell" (James 3:6).
Jesus said in (Mt. 15:11), "Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man but what proceeds out of the mouth this defiles the man." What you say cannot only destroy others. It will always defile you.
You see our words can ruin our appearance and personality. Have you ever been around people who smoke a lot. They smell like smoke. The inside of their cars and the inside of their homes smell like smoke.
I remember meeting young women who I thought were physically attractive and beautiful until I would hear them say a profane word or utter some curse word and in just that instance their beauty was gone.
The tongue can do the same thing to us. It can strip radiance and beauty of Christ away from our lives.
THE TONGUE DEVOURS.
"All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:7-8).
Here, James compares the tongue to a wild untamed beast in the jungle that attacks and feds off other animals.
We have a term for devouring one another called "backbiting." That's a good term…for that is exactly what it is. It is when you take your teeth and bite into the back of another person. That's exactly the way one wild animal often attacks another wild animal by biting the animal in the back.
The tongue is like a piranha…which can eat you alive.
I heard about a woman who went to the doctor for an examination. She felt terrible. The doctor got a very serious expression on his face and said, "Madam, I hate to tell you this, but you have rabies." She got out her notebook and started making a list. He said, "What are you doing…making out your will." She said, "No, I'm making out a list of people I'm going to bite."
The tongue can be a very dangerous weapon. We must control it.
THIRD, LET'S EXPLORE THE DIVINE PURPOSE OF THE TONGUE.
James in (vs. 9-12) says that the tongue can accomplish spiritually that nothing else can accomplish physically.
It is physically impossible for a fountain to send out both fresh and bitter water. It is physically impossible for a fig tree to produce olives or a vine to produce figs or for salt water to produce fresh water.
Yet, He says so often the tongue does just that. It is used to bless God and to curse men. It is used for glory and it is used for gossip. It is used to bless and it is used to bury. It is used to help and it is used to hurt. It is used to praise and it is used to pollute.
You may say, brother, this tongue is an awful thing that God has created. No, it is not awful in and of itself. It's awful in the way it is used.
But you see every thing that God has created has a divine purpose. God has a purpose for our tongues. A divine purpose.
THE TONGUE IS USED FOR GLORIFICATION.
"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness" (James 3:9).
Our tongues are to be used to bless God. Our words ought to be bathed in prayer. They ought to be soaked in praise.
How different our lives would be if we used our tongues to bless God. How different the church would be if every tongue in our church was used solely for the purpose of blessing God. How different would our fellowship be…
Let's use every possible opportunity to shower God with praises.
"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess His name" (Heb. 13:15).
THE TONGUE IS USED FOR EDIFICATION.
Our tongues are to be used to build up not tear down.
When we encourage someone, it change their life.
In (Acts 13:5ff), a young man named John Mark was an enthusiastic worker for the Lord. In fact, he loved God so much that he accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey.
However, along the way, John Mark decided to return home and leave the missionary effort.
Later in (Acts 15:36-39), Barnabas wanted to invite John Mark to join them for another journey, but Paul did not want to. As a result, the partners went separate ways, Barnabas with Mark and Paul with Silas.
Read (Acts 15:36-40).
Can you imagine how devastating it was for Mark when Paul refused to let him go on the next missionary journey? He could have been so discouraged that he quit the ministry or even gave up on God.
However, Barnabas (Son of Encouragement) stood beside his friend John Mark despite his past failure and encouraged him in the work of the Lord. He lifted John Mark up and gave him another chance and inspired him to continue in the ministry.
Barnabas’ encouragement changed John Mark's life. Think about it, what would have happened if Mark had quit? We probably wouldn’t have the Gospel according to Mark.
Our tongues are to be used to bless God and edify one another.
I hope and pray that this lesson has given you some insight on the nature of the tongue.