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About-Him.Com Devotional 12-03-2011
The Tongue, An Unruly Evil
Text: James 3:1 KJV ¶ My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
Be not many masters: In the KJV, this seems like an archaic phrase. The NIV clarifies it quite a bit.
James 3:1 NIV - Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
In Judaism and the early church and even in the church today, there was a tendency for some to elevate themselves as Paul so aptly described in Romans 2:18-19. He was writing to some who had a form of knowledge and the truth of the law. They were confident that they were a guide to the blind, showing them a light in darkness. They saw themselves as teachers of the foolish and teachers of infants.
The office of teacher is part of the five-fold ministry of the church (Eph. 4:11). The teacher is appointed by God, and will be held accountable as a shepherd of the flock. We are not self ordained but have served in lesser positions under those who had the rule over us (Heb. 13:17). As we studied the word to show ourselves approved (2 Ti. 2:15), our leadership entrusted us with handling the word of God as teachers. At least that’s how it should be.
The ministry is not to consider themselves as lords over God’s heritage (1 Pe. 5:3), but must be examples to the flock that they are leading. Paul was able to say, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also [am] of Christ (1 Co. 11:1), because he had walked justly before the people in holiness and without blame (1 Th.2:10; 2 Th. 3:7).
Jesus told us to not be called Rabbi or Master which means teacher (Mt. 7-8). This is a scripture that most choose to ignore, because we are enthralled with the use of titles. We start out with minister, progress to elder and then reach the pinnacle with bishop. This might impress men, but I don’t think God is a bit impressed.
Matthew 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren.
Text: James 3:1b knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
We will all, whether in the pulpit or in the pew, appear before the judgment seat of Christ. There we will answer for the deeds of our flesh, whether good or bad (2 Co 5:10). Our works will be tried by fire to determine which sort they are: gold, silver and precious jewels as opposed to hay, wood and stubble (1 Co. 3:12-15). We will be rewarded accordingly, but our salvation will not be in jeopardy. It certainly behooves those who fill the office of teacher to study to show ourselves approved and to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Ti. 2:15).
Text: James 3:2 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.
Once again, James uses the plural “we” which shows that he was finding fault with himself as much as with anyone else. The area of offense where we all stumble so easily is in controlling our tongues. If one as pious as James considered himself to be an offender, I’m sure that I stand convicted.
Text: James 3:3 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.
The largest ships in our modern navies are controlled by a relatively small rudder. Mighty horses are controlled by bits placed in their mouths. Yet our tongue which is a small member of our bodies cannot be tamed. When controlled by the Spirit of God, the tongue can lift another from the depths of despair, when we speak a word in season to one who is weary (Isa. 50:4). On the other hand, I’ve seen folks who have labored diligently in building up an assembly, tear it all down by intemperate speech.
Text: James 3:9 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.
11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?
12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
Our speech shows exactly where we are living. Not the speech that we utter in church, but that which we speak in moments of frustration and anger. James used the word “we” indicating that all were guilty. When we find ourselves coming up short, it is a good time for instant personal examination.
Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
The Psalms and Proverbs have much to say about the tongue.
Proverbs 12:18 ¶ There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise [is] health.
Proverbs 10:20 ¶ The tongue of the just [is as] choice silver: the heart of the wicked [is] little worth.
Psalms 37:30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
Likewise the epistles still speak to us today concerning how we manage our speech.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
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. – Jesus Christ (Matthew 12:36-38)
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Don and Marie Spooner
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Last modified: 03-19-2018
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