In this sixth sermon from the book of James, we entered into a portion of the letter that’s practical and specific in how it addresses the tongue and the role of spoken words in the life of a Christian. Contrary to the common cliche that “sticks and stones can break our bones but words can never hurt us,” James reminds us that words are actually far more dangerous and potent than physical force for the simple fact that they go beyond flesh and bone and can cut to the very soul of a person. Therefore, like anything containing power, words must be stewarded properly and harnessed not for self-service, but in submission to Christ.
We must safeguard our tongue and realize the more we speak, the more opportunity there is to sin; for as sinners we have the innate ability to leverage anything originally created for good and corrupt it. Realizing this causes us to seek a measure of grace, and prevents us from underestimating the role of speech in the Christian life. James’ quick and early attention to this topic in his letter indicates that the way we speak is one of the greatest and most tell-tale signs of how tightly we grasp and understand the gospel. The words that we speak either reveal idols still present in our lives or reveal God’s grace at work in our lives.
Making the Connection from Thinking to Action – Ask Yourself:
What kind of culture do you create with your words at home? At work? Among friends and peers?
When people don’t yet know you are a Christian, do your default topic(s) and manner(s) of speech compliment or contradict your claim to follow Christ? When people do know of your faith; is your speech a witness or stumbling block?
What are the specific areas of verbal communication that you need God to really give you grace in? Are you a boaster? Complainer? Criticizer? Coarse joker? Perverse talker? Other? Identify the area and seek accountability and prayer in this area.