JAMES CHAPTER THREE BIBLE STUDY:
When I was 19 years old, God called me to teach his word. I still remember to this day the first time I had the opportunity to teach God’s Word.
My youth pastor asked me to speak to the 30+ kids that attended youth group on a Thursday night. I don’t remember what I spoke about or the words I used…what will always hide in my heart is the response that took place when I closed my eyes to pray.
When I opened my eyes after I prayed, most of the 30+ students were at the altar crying, repenting, and calling on God.
I will never forget that day as long as I live…“why?” you might ask. That day I saw first hand the power of what God had gifted me to do. I saw the power of the Holy Spirit working through me!
If you have kids, more than likely you have seen spider-man…especially if you have had boys. There is a part in that movie that has always stuck with me. It’s the part when Peter Parker discovered his new powers and was sitting with his granddad in the car. His granddad told him “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
The Word of God has great power…and those who teach it and preach it have great responsibility. God takes His Word very seriously!
God’s Word is Jesus…and when someone teaches His Word, they are teaching Jesus! (John 1:1-2)
When I read this verse many years ago…I got scared! I’m not joking! Being judged more strictly…that doesn’t seem very blessed or joyful! Remembering this verse, always makes me aware that I am dealing with a very delicate gift.
I don’t EVER want to find myself teaching God’s Word half-heartedly or teaching it falsely.
I don’t EVER want to find myself misconstruing God’s Word into something others want to hear or tickling their ears!
So…for those of you whom God has called to teach…tread fearfully (not fearful in the sense of being afraid to teach…but we should have a holy fear of the precious gift of God’s Word)
In teaching God’s Word, we are teaching others about their walk with the Lord and teaching the truth of God’s Word…and we should always teach the fullness of the truth of God’s Word!
The Scriptures are full of reference to the “tongue”. I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to take the time and do a study about this small but powerful tool God has given us.
The tongue has immense power to speak sinfully, erroneously, and inappropriately. The human speech is a graphic representation of human depravity (MacArthur Bible Commentary pg. 1889)
I love how James puts it clearly in verse 2…we all make mistakes. Which we all do in reference to the tongue…or our speech. We all say things we may not mean in a heated argument, we make a wise-aleck comment without thinking, we make a sly remark, the list could go and on of things we mistakenly say.
I heard of this lesson one time years ago about a children’s pastor who wanted to teach the kids a powerful lesson about the power of their words. He took a tube toothpaste and asked a child to volunteer. He then asked the child to squeeze all the toothpaste out onto the table…the child did what was asked joyfully and with much fun. Then the pastor asked the child to put all the toothpaste back into the tube. The child looked up at him in disbelief…knowing the task was impossible.
Just like the impossibility of putting toothpaste back in the tube…we can’t take the damage back that is done when we make our “mistakes” with our tongue.
Our words are powerful…they have immense power! (Proverbs 18:21) “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
James states in the latter part of verse 2…IF…he wasn’t assuming anyone is perfect or anyone could bridle the tongue! IF they did…then they would also be able to control themselves in every other way.
I haven’t met a perfect person yet! I have heard some of the most godly people say a few choice words when they get frustrated or angry.
We are a messy people…our tongues are the messiest!!
I love the illustrations James uses about the power of the tongue.
- A horse with a bit
The horse is incredibly powerful and once it is trained with a bit…it will submit to the rider.
- A small rudder on a ship
The ship is gigantic compared to the tiny rudder that is being steered by the pilot. It goes where the pilot says it should go.
Our tongues are small…but they cannot be tamed!!
- The tongue is a flame of fire….it can cause all sorts of destruction!
- The things that you say is a reflection of what is in the heart.
We can tame all sorts of wild animals…but we can’t tame our own tongues!
Jewish tradition is to add “blessed be He” anytime God’s name is mentioned…however, all sorts of evil were spoken over people (who were made in God’s image). This not only happened in bible times…but we see it prevalent today!
- With the same mouth we praise God and curse others…
- With the same mouth we preach the Word and yell at our kids…
- With the same mouth we pray to the Father and gossip about a co-worker…
- With the same mouth we declare Jesus as Lord and put people down…
How can we overcome this flaming evil called the tongue? Is there any hope?
If we look at Acts 2:1-11 What do we see happening suddenly?…a sound of a violent wind came and then what? TONGUES of fire! WOW! It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit who showed himself to the believers as tongues of fire can give us the power to overcome this evil!
I often think of Christ on the cross and his words in Luke 23:24 “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Although Jesus was beaten to the point that no one could recognize him…He was spit on…mocked…his clothes torn and gambled for…He asked God to forgive them…Through the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus was able to overcome His tongue and bless those who brutalized Him.
Christ knows our struggle with this defiant enemy (We need to remember that Jesus walked in the fullness of his humanity and yet did not sin)…and He sent the Holy Spirit to help us not only to preach the gospel with boldness…but to overcome the evil in our lives!
Although we will never be able to fully walk perfectly in this messy life…we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us in our messiness!
As we walk out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), we will see the new creation being formed in us. The areas that we once struggled with (whether it be gossip, slander, cursing, course joking, etc.) will no longer be an issue.
I used to have such a filthy mouth when I was a teenager/young adult…but now, as I have been convicted and sanctified in this area…I can’t stand cussing.
WE CAN ONLY OVERCOME BY THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT!
James begins talking about walking out our wisdom. If we are wise and have understanding of God’s ways then we should live it. We live it by:
- Living an honorable life
- Doing good works with humility (humility is the key)
I love verse 14. So many times when we have jealousy or selfishness in our motives…we often try to cover it up. Many times, we try to think of ourselves better than we ought. Isn’t there a verse about that? (Romans 12:3).
It’s not real clear if James is speaking to teachers of God’s Word…however, I believe we can apply this to all of our lives.
Think of all the times that we give advice, or make a decision. Is our motivation out of jealousy or selfish ambition? Or is it God’s wisdom.
How can we know the difference between the two?
Wisdom that is from jealousy and selfishness becomes evident by our reaction to a given situation. Let’s pretend that you are volunteering in the church. You feel called to ministry and you take this volunteer opportunity to “prove” to the leaders that you have what it takes to fulfill a “higher” position in the church. There comes an opening for a children’s pastor and you think…”I got this in the bag!” Then an announcement is made that Suzy Soso will become the new children’s pastor. If you are upset about the decision and quit volunteering…then you were volunteering for the wrong “wisdom” in the first place! I hope you understand what I am saying. We need to check our hearts!
God’s wisdom is pure, it’s peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. Let’s take the same scenario. Suzy Soso was just announced new children’s pastor after you have worked so hard to make the program work. You feel let down and a bit disappointed. You ask God what’s going on BUT you continue to serve…you yield to Suzy Soso’s leadership and help her in anyway she need to make her ministry successful…that’s God’s wisdom!
Man’s Wisdom = earthly, unspiritual, and demonic
God’s Wisdom = purity, peace loving, gentle, yielding
In using God’s wisdom it follows with a promise…we will reap a harvest of righteousness!