Thursday, April 30, 2009

James 3


Today in James we are looking for a bigger and better mouth-trap.

1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. NOTE that when you are a teacher, people will hold you to a stricter judgment. It is so easy and inevitable that as you teach you will misspeak in some way. AND, your audience has difficulty remembering much of what you said, but they will not forget the mistakes you made in speaking. (I hate when that happens! This is why I continually say to myself, "Stick to your notes. Be careful of having a 'bright idea' in the middle of your teaching without thinking through the consequences!")

The tongue is so powerful-the power to bring on depression or to encourage contentment. FIRST-It's inconsequential yet most important of all. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. 3 Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4 Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.

SECOND-It's influential. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!

THIRD-It's inflammable. 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by gehenna (the cursed garbage pit).

FOURTH-It's insubordinate. 7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.

FIFTH-It's inconsistent. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

If the tongue is good, there is nothing better. If it is bad, there is nothing worse. If the tongue is to be good, it must be tamed by loving heavenly wisdom and hating earthly wisdom. NOTE how James paints two pictures-earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom. He defines each very specifically.

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

EARTHLY WISDOM-14 But if you have bitter jealousy [sharp & cutting words] and selfish ambition in your heart [divisive, factious, all about their own self-interest], do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.

NOTE that "bitter jealousy" and "selfish ambition in your heart" become an earthly, putrid fountain for earthly wisdom. Then, note the flow out of this dirty fountain-Earthly-limited to this planet, nothing from heaven. Natural-soulish-the best humanity can do. Demonic-from the pit of the most cursed garbage dump in all of Israel!

THEN NOTE that an additional flow from this sort of fountain is "disorder" (restless confusion) and "every evil thing" (worthlessness-good-for-nothingness). Keep in mind that the ultimate flow from this fountain of earthly wisdom is a tongue that is out of control and dangerous, therefore it can destroy people!

HEAVENLY WISDOM-17 But the wisdom from above is first pure [holy-single-minded-on a mission], then peaceable, gentle [equitable-fair and open], reasonable [able to be approached-to consider things without quick reaction], full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering [unprejudiced and consistent], without hypocrisy [as good as your word]. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace [Only in peace is the fruit of righteousness found-a tongue tied to heavenly wisdom is a seed sown in peace that will produce a Jesus-kind of lifestyle.]

So, a tongue-check is really a heart-check! To tame your tongue, you must learn to love heavenly wisdom and hate earthly wisdom in the same way a gardener loves plants and hates weeds! You must be tongue-tied-your tongue must be tied to heavenly wisdom; meekness is the knot that holds it together ("in the gentleness of wisdom"-verse 13).