Think About It!
We’ve all had those times where we didn’t realize the power contained in something we thought was insignificant…small choices that turned out to be big decisions. Little acts of kindness that made a huge difference. Or our words! Words are such a seemingly small part of who we are, but they have the power to make or break us. If it’s ever felt like an impossible task to get your tongue under control, this message is for you! The book of James has so much to teach us about controlling our mouths…and how much is at stake when we speak.
Talk About It!
1. The tongue is small but powerful
- Why are our words important? The book of James gets right to the point: our words can make a mess. Our words don’t get us into Heaven, but when we know Jesus and how much he loves us, it should change the way we talk and the words we use.
- Our words are so small, but they are powerful. Can you think of other things that are small and have a lot of power? James uses three examples of very small things that have a lot of power, and the tongue is the same way. Our words steer our whole life, like a horse’s bridle or a ship’s rudder. They can spread the good news of the gospel, or they can spread damage, just like the spark that starts a wildfire.
- What do a person’s words say about them? When we think about our words, it’s important to remember the two main functions that they serve in our lives. First, they show us what is going on in our heart, and second, they direct where our lives are heading.
2. The tongue must be tamed
- James says that nobody can tame their tongue. If we can’t tame our tongue, what should we do? God, by his Holy Spirit, wants all of us to have our words under control. James says, “No man can tame the tongue…” But he doesn’t say God can’t tame the tongue! Only by God’s power and might can we do this seemingly impossible task.
- What do you think it looks like when we let God tame our tongue? Right now, a lot of people are using their words to hurt others. That’s not how we are supposed to act as children of God. As followers of Jesus, we have to let the Holy Spirit govern our feelings and teach us how to use our words.
- If you let God teach you how to use your words, what kind of things do you think you would say? When we are stressed out or angry, sometimes we use our words to hurt other people. If we’re not careful, we will use them in damaging ways. Before we speak, we need to ask ourselves if our words would help a situation, and if not, we shouldn’t say them.
3. The tongue should be intentionally deployed
- If saltwater came out of your sink half the time, would you drink out of it? Nope! Saltwater is gross. We should only drink totally fresh water. That’s what James is talking about with our words.The words that come out of our mouth should be fresh, safe words. If the words that come out of our mouth are gross half the time, they won’t give life to anyone.
- Why do our words to other people matter to God? Too often, we praise God with the same mouth that we use to shout people down. That’s not okay. If we walk with Jesus, we need to control our tongues. When we hurt other people with our words, it hurts God too.
- Do you ever let God use your words when you pray? Romans 8:26 says that the Spirit of God himself prays through us when we ask him. When our tongue is used to hurt people, we will make a mess. However, when we ask God to speak through us, he is able to do more amazing things than we could have ever dreamed!
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- What makes you say that?
- How does that make you feel?
- How would you explain this to someone who doesn’t know Jesus?
- Why do you think God did it that way?
- Why should we do the things that God tells us?