This week's YACC session continues to look at James.
The bible reading is James 3 v 1-12
JAMES 3 Controlling the Things We Say
1My brothers, not many of you should become teachers. You know that we who teach will be judged more strictly than others. 2We all make many mistakes. If there were a person who never said anything wrong, he would be perfect. He would be able to control his whole body, too. 3We put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us. We can control their whole bodies. 4It is the same with ships. A ship is very big, and it is pushed by strong winds. But a very small rudder controls that big ship. The man who controls the rudder decides where the ship will go. The ship goes where the man wants. 5It is the same with the tongue. It is a small part of the body, but it brags about doing great things.
A big forest fire can be started with only a little flame. 6And the tongue is like a fire. It is a whole world of evil among the parts of our bodies. The tongue spreads its evil through the whole body. It starts a fire that influences all of life. The tongue gets this fire from hell. 7People can tame every kind of wild animal, bird, reptile, and fish, and they have tamed them. 8But no one can tame the tongue. It is wild and evil. It is full of poison that can kill. 9We use our tongues to praise our Lord and Father, but then we curse people. And God made them like himself. 10Praises and curses come from the same mouth! My brothers, this should not happen. 11Do good and bad water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree make olives? Can a grapevine make figs? No! And a well full of salty water cannot give good water.
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Have you ever felt like maybe you would want to be a teacher? Teachers especially have to be careful with what they say. James is sharing that everyone should not become teachers because teachers will receive the stricter judgment. In other words, God is going to look closer at the lives of those who teach God’s Word. It is important for us who would stand up before others and teach God’s Word that we are living it our in our own lives.
God holds the job of teaching in high regard. It is an important position. A lot of people think teachers “know it all.” If a person is a teacher of children, very often that child will believe everything that teacher says. Have you ever heard a child have a conversation with his mom when he has said, “That’s not what my teachers says”? Teachers of the Word of God then have a big responsibility to study the Word of God so they do not misrepresent our Lord. James is telling us here that being a teacher is a serious job! It is very much a blessing to be a teacher, but at the same time it is a great responsibility.
Next James reminds us that we all stumble in many ways. In other words, we all make mistakes, but if we could control our tongues then that would be a true sign of being a mature believer (perfect here means mature or complete). To be a mature Christian means to have the fruit of self-control coming out of our lives. Controlling our tongues is a very hard thing, but when we truly have our tongues, and what we say under the control of the Holy Sprit then we are growing in Jesus. If we could control our tongues then we can also control other parts of our lives.
To give us an idea of how powerful our tongues are, James gives an example of a bit in a horse’s mouth. A bit is a small piece of metal that is placed in a horse’s mouth. When the horse’s owner wants to move in a certain direction or stop or go then all they need to do is pull or turn the bit in the horse’s mouth. That small piece of metal will turn the entire body of that strong horse. In the same way our little tiny tongues can control our entire lives.
We have to be careful with what comes out of our mouths. What we say matters. Who has heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”? It’s just not true. Words can and do hurt.
Another picture we are given is that of a large ship. Has anyone ever seen the little rudder at the tail end of a huge ship? A small thing like a rudder can help get a huge ship through a storm. A small thing like our tongue can change the course of our lives if we do not use it correctly, if we do not steer it the right way. Just like the captain of a ship, we need to stay at the helm all during the storm so we can bring the ship to safety. Proverbs 6:16, 17 say there are seven things God hates. A lying tongue is one of them. Let that not be us as we grow up in the ways of the Lord. God wants us to watch what we say.