James Chapter 3: Words & Wisdom

The practical application of God’s Word should be the Lifelong Goal of all ‘Biblical Christians’. Two key areas to concentrate on are: our words and what we consider ‘Wisdom’. These two issues will impact our relational life more than just about anything else. The two are connected in our lives just as God’s Word & His Wisdom are.

1 Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

  • Teachers are ‘Thought Leaders’ and have influence in leading Jesus’ Church
  • Leadership in Jesus’ Church is not like leadership in the rest of the world
  • If teaching is not aligned with Scripture / Gospel it is a great offense to God
  • We are all fallen, here is where God’s grace comes in…(judged with Grace)
  • The control of our speech & language leads other aspects of self-control

3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

  • The power of our ‘Tongue’ is the disproportionate power our words have to influence people
  • Little things mean a lot

But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

  • Small things can do great damage, our words have great capacity to harm
  • Our words are the primary outlet of sin in each of us
  • In our ‘Immaturity’ we abuse the power of our words without realizing it
  • God wants us to be aware of the importance of our words (Devil wants the exact opposite)

7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.

  • GOD’S WORD says no one can completely control their words… It is a war against pride!
  • We should use our words like we are handling a live explosive (careful & slow)
  • The dual nature of our words is a heartbreaking reality
  • We can intentionally ask God to grow our praising and decrease our cursing

10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

  • As true followers of Christ we are called to imitate Him, so HE is the standard
  • If we have given over our lives to Christ should not our speaking reflect HIM?
  • IF Christ is the source of who we are there should be constant spiritual growth
  • Our spring should keep being less and less ‘Salty’…

God’s Character and how He desires us to be is displayed through His Messiah. Jesus Christ is our example in all things! Two examples from the Scriptures:

The Coming Messiah: Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

Jesus Before Pilate: Mark 15:1-5 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied. The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Jesus is the standard for how we use language & speech: yielded to and led by The Holy Spirit

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.

  • Wisdom & Words, Words & Wisdom… The are intertwined
  • Biblical definition of Wisdom: Living God’s Way
  • Jesus Incarnated God’s Ways : Ultimate Humility / Ultimate Good Works
  • Don’t confuse God’s Way with Your Way (lay down yourself)

15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

  • God’s wisdom is consistently opposite what is valued by our popular culture
  • If you don’t think a great deal of our popular culture is demonic; WAKE UP!
  • The predominate culture is built on self-centered, non-communal individualism
  • Disorder & Evil flow from the ambition and hate that are given place when everything is about ME!

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

  • Wisdom that reflects Christ is uncorrupted by sin (poop in brownie, no prob)
  • It does not seek conflict: loving peace can require conflict, but resolving is goal
  • Being gentle and yielding to others is not valued
  • All of these are crucial to relationships being built and strengthened (recap)
  • The actions of peace making have tangible results (fruit, a harvest of rightness)

Application Questions:

How do you view ‘Teaching & Leading’ in the church? Is your perspective Biblical?

How do you intentionally make your spring (Words) less ‘Salty’

What practices do you employ to intentionally fight jealousy & selfishness?

Where does your life (not your words) reflect Verse 17? Were does it not?