International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday February 23, 2014
Purpose: To grasp how the language we use shows or fails to show mercy and justice
Bible Lesson: James 3:1-12
James 3:1-12 (CEB)
(1) My brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers, because we know that we teachers will be judged more strictly. (2) We all make mistakes often, but those who don’t make mistakes with their words have reached full maturity. Like a bridled horse, they can control themselves entirely. (3) When we bridle horses and put bits in their mouths to lead them wherever we want, we can control their whole bodies.
(4) Consider ships: They are so large that strong winds are needed to drive them. But pilots direct their ships wherever they want with a little rudder. (5) In the same way, even though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts wildly.
Think about this: A small flame can set a whole forest on fire. (6) The tongue is a small flame of fire, a world of evil at work in us. It contaminates our entire lives. Because of it, the circle of life is set on fire. The tongue itself is set on fire by the flames of hell.
(7) People can tame and already have tamed every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish. (8) No one can tame the tongue, though. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (9) With it we both bless the Lord and Father and curse human beings made in God’s likeness. (10) Blessing and cursing come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, it just shouldn’t be this way!
(11) Both freshwater and saltwater don’t come from the same spring, do they? (12) My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree produce olives? Can a grapevine produce figs? Of course not, and fresh water doesn’t flow from a saltwater spring either.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
As I read James’s letter, I find it a little difficult to add anything of substantial value to what he has written. In fact I think it probably discourages me from adding flowery words to an already well written and easy to understand lesson.
If this was relevant and true in James’ day then think how much more it is true today when we have Instant Messaging, Twitter, Facebook and other social media.
Today, we see every day how someone has to apologize for a “tweet” or comment. From politicians to rock stars, to sports heroes, it seems everyone has a problem controlling their tongue one way or another.
How do we control our tongue? The Psalmist says in 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep close watch over the door that is my lips. Jesus is a little more direct when he says in Matthew 15:10-11 (10) Jesus called the crowd near and said to them, "Listen and understand. (11) Its not what goes into the mouth that contaminates a person in God’s sight. It’s what comes out of the mouth that contaminates the person."
Controlling the tongue is not easy and I am convinced in our own strength is impossible, but with God “all things are possible.”
There is an old Jewish tale that illustrates the damage a loose or wicked tongue can do. The story is told about a man that had told malicious lies about a local rabbi. After recognizing the harm he had caused he went to the rabbi to repent and ask for forgiveness. The wise rabbi offered his forgiveness and then instructed the remorseful man to go home, take a pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds. The remorseful man obeyed and then came back to the rabbi to report his instructions had been followed. The wise rabbi nodded with approval then said. “Now go and gather all the feathers and place them back into the pillow.”
So it is with our words, it is impossible to get them all back. I like what the writer of Proverbs says, in 12:18 Some chatter on like a stabbing sword, but a wise tongue heals.
Use your tongue wisely, use it for healing let God take control of that part of your body. James teaches us, it is better to listen than to talk, listen more, and talk less.