“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. But if anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, and also able to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” Boy, get the words that this guy's using to describe our tongue. “With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, that who have been made in the similitude, or the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.”
As we've said so often, James is practical. He's the show-me person. He is the New Testament version of the man from Missouri. He says, “You have faith. Show me your faith. I wanna see it.” He says, “You show me your faith without your works, I'll show you my faith by my works.” He's very, very practical and he writes on practical things and what we're seeing here in the book of James to refresh us is three characteristics of a spiritually mature person. He's speaking on spiritual maturity, by the way. That's the theme of his book. Three characteristics of spiritual maturity. Number one, a spiritual mature person is patient in trouble. That's what Chapter 1 is all about. He perseveres, he hangs in there when the tough times come on. Number two, he practices truth. He just doesn't listen to truth and take notes on the truth, but he practices truth. Second mark of spiritual maturity. That's what Chapter 2 is all about. Now Chapter 3, he has power over the tongue. Now this is a toughy. This is definitely, I think, one of the hardest areas in the Christian person's life is his mouth. The mouth has gotten people into more trouble. And so often a person will say, you know, you'll say something and you'll want, you'll regret it, you'll take it back, “Oh, I'm sorry, that wasn't me.” Yeah, it was. Sure it was you. Jesus said from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Sure it was you. It was lurking in there all along, it just came. And sometimes it even shocks us, doesn't it? We find out what comes, what's going on down there. For out of the heart, Jesus said, proceeds all of these evil kind of things. Now, ah I was gonna pick on Peter again, but, admit it, Peter had a problem. And it wasn't that he had a harsh mouth. It wasn't that he had, you know, that he had a bad gossip mouth. He just didn't know when to speak and when to be quiet. He just spoke out of turn too many times and he was rebuked by it, or for it by the Lord. And, uh, so we don't have to rehash all that again but Jesus did say that, “By your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned. For every idle word that man lets out of his mouth he will give an account before God.” Those are pretty heavy words.
Now, we've already discussed in verses 1-4 how that Paul likens the tongue to a bit that you put in a horses mouth and a rudder on a ship. Two small things that have the power to direct a large object. So the tongue, first of all, has a power to direct people's lives. You can say things in such a way as to offer direction to people so it can be useful. Now we're gonna see that the tongue is like a fire or like a poisonous animal if it's not used correctly. But, since it's been a few weeks, let's just briefly cover uh James 1-4. “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive the stricter judgment.” As we've talked about, he who teaches spiritual truth is more accountable, he's accountable for what he teaches people. It's gonna be a bummer when people stand before God and say, “Hey, do you remember that Bible study you gave that night? Now, let me tell you what it really is all about. Let me tell you what the real meaning is.” Well, that would be horrible to find you that you led, misled someone eternally. I think of a pastor who tells a person, “You don't have to be born again. All you have to do is join the church, do the best that you can, be nice to people, and you're gonna be alright.” Because he's gonna receive greater condemnation for teaching people that garbage. God's gonna hold him accountable for speaking lies instead of the truth, misguiding someone. So he says, “Don't let many of you become teachers.” So many people love to set themselves up as experts. “Well, I know everything.” They hear a few Bible studies and all of a sudden they're biblical scholars on any subject. And I think the best answer if you don't know anything when someone asks you is just say, “I don't know.” “Well, do you know the answer to this?” “Well, now...” and you try to act real impressive and spiritual and come up with an answer. If you don't know just say, “You know, I don't know the answer to that.” That's the safest way to be and you can escape the judgement. “We all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a completed,” that's what the word 'perfect' there means, “a complete man, and also able to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.”Now, not many of us have been around in the days of horse and buggies, but just, I'm sure there are a few. How many were, were around in the days of horse and buggies. Okay, Dom, good for you. (light laughter) A few others. Now, it's hard for a lot of us to relate to that. Didn't get it, what was it? (comment from the congregation) Ha ha ha ha, I won't repeat that, we're on tape (light laughter). See what the tongue can do (laughter). Ha ha ha. Scripture is right. Now I haven't experienced this, but I've read that in the days of horse and bug- you know I used to wonder, you know, horse and buggies was it, was it dangerous? I mean, could you actually have horse collisions or, uh, uh, three-horse pileup on the freeway (laughter) or something like that? But I read that in those days that the horses would sometimes run away or could, uh, get spooked and overturn a whole carriage. They could just run away with the carriage and overturn it and, uh, if the horse wasn't properly trained, a lot of things could happen. They could have accidents. And, the tongue can run away from us. Needs to be kept under control. But as we see in these ensuing verses, no man can tame the tongue. It's ungovernable. It's unattainable by yourself. That's where the power of God comes in. Now, Proverbs have a lot to say concerning the mouth, the tongue. And we'll cover a few of those tonight. But I think it was during World War II, there was a saying that was very popular. We had our own proverb that was, “loose lips sink ships”. In other words, you should keep your mouth shut so that you don't divulge certain information and so forth. Loose lips sink ships.
Now, in verse 5. “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” One of our greatest friends throughout the history of man has been fire. In fact, some historians believe that civilization began when man discovered fire. Fire has been used to cook food , to provide heat, to generate power. All sorts of good things. That's when it's in control. But when it's out of control it can be devastating. Just like the tongue can be good when it's in control, when it's out of control, it can ruin people. It can be like a fire- it can spread and it can tear down people's reputation because of gossip, which is one of the most heinous sins in the church, is that of gossip. And that's why James covers it in such detail and with such clarity is because he knows that one of our biggest troubles is our mouths. When it's in control it's great, when it's out of control, it's devastating. When I was a kid, we used to be up in the summertime and whenever we'd hear a siren go off in the town we lived it, my dad would pile us all in the car and we'd go find where the fire was (light laughter). Did you ever do that? Now when I was a kid, I was amazing at some of the structures that I remember growing up with, seeing in town, watching them burn to the ground. And you'd ask people, how did this thing start? “Oh, somebody drove by, threw a cigarette out the door and it burned down.” Just a little thing. A little spark can destroy. Every summer, of course, in California, you hear about it on the news, the skylines are brown with the haze from fires. Fires burn out of control every summer in Southern California, and they have volunteer firemen from all over the strate-state trying to put it out. And every summer there's always the Smoky the Bear commercials that come out and they sort of play them more often than usual, you know, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” because of the tendency in that area to have such forest fires. It can devastate. Fire, when it's in control, can be a friend. Turn on your stove, fire comes out. Turn on your car, you can, you have the fire inside can get you going. But if it's out of control, it can burn down, it can be devastating. I think of the great fire of London in 1666. The remains of it are still around today. You can still see charred buildings in London from the 1666 fire. In Chicago, I think 1870-1871, Mrs. O'Leary's cow out in the barn tipped over the lantern. You probably heard this story. And just that little spark caused the great fire of Chicago that killed 300 people, left 100,000 people homeless, destroyed 1,750 buildings and cost the city 400 million dollars in damages. A little spark, it can spread. And so he likens the tongue to that. He said, "It's a fire. The grace of boat- it boasts of great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” Turn with me to Proverbs, Chapter 26. Let's look at verse 17. “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears (light laughter). Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows and death is the man who deceives his neighbors and says, 'I was only joking'. Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; where there is no talebearer,” better word, gossiper, “strife ceases.” In verse 21, “As charcoal is to burning coals and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.” See how he likens it to a fire too? It can spread, it can do great damage in people's lives. Now David, King David of Israel seemed to have problems with his temper. In fact, he wrote about it. How, that he himself had tongue trouble and would try to restrain his words and his anger, but they got the better of him. In fact, I'd like you to turn back to Psalms. Psalm 39. And notice the description that David gives concerning the mouth. “I said, 'I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle.'”Now, picture that. David said, "It's so bad, I should put a muzzle over mouth just so I couldn't talk half the time.” “While the wicked are before me, I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good' and my sorrow was stirred up,” now notice, “my heart was hot within me; while I was musing, the fire burned.”He likens it to fire again. “Then I spoke with my tongue.” Now I think every one of us have been in the situation that David has been where we've gotten angry, somebody's done something, somebody's said something and you're anger inside is rising and burning and kindling and you're trying to restrain as hard as you can. You're not gonna say anything, and then you lash out in anger and you say something to someone, you swear or you get angry and bitter and say words that you're gonna regret later on. A lot of us say words that we regret later on because it's moment of haste and anger. That's why David says, “I will set a guard over my ways lest I sin with my tongue.”Now, Solomon said this: in Proverbs 17 he said, "He who has knowledge spares his words.” He who has knowledge spares his words, “and a man of understanding is of calm spirit.” He spares his words. You know, the proverbs also say that the fool is known because of the multitude of his words. Like the old saying goes, “It's better to keep your mouth closed and let people think that you're a fool rather than to open your mouth and dispel all doubt (light laughter).” In Proverbs 14, Solomon said, "He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exults folly.” The tongue is a fire and there are a lot of people that are human flame-throwers. They come around and they find some juicy tale about your life or about someone else's life in your presence. And they just love, and you know the trouble with it is that people beef it up each time they tell it. They add a just a little more detail so by the time it comes all the way back around from the person who started it, it's a totally different story than how it started. It's much worse. People love to add, you know, gory, bloody details to it to make it seem worse than it is. Gossip is like that. It's like a fire- it spreads.
You would probably be amazed at the rumors concerning Calvary Chapel. Well, maybe you wouldn't be, depending who you are. But I have been amazed at some of the things people have asked me, or they've heard that's going on or what we do and all sorts of weird cultic activities and so forth. And people hear of something and they, uh get their lips moving without their mind going, and they just love to go tell people certain things. And it hurts the body of Christ at large. For that matter, when any any time we gossip about any fellowship or any group of Christians or any brother, we are actually hurting Christ. We are persecuting Jesus in the flesh personally. Any time we lash out against someone, any time we have a juicy tidbit to share about someone's life, you are blatantly persecuting Christ. For when Paul the Apostle, who was Saul of Tarsus was going to Damascus, persecuting the saints at Damascus, he was knocked off his horse and Jesus said, "Saul, why do you persecute Me?”Not the church, which he was doing. He said, "Who are you, lord?” He said, "I am Jesus who you are persecuting.” Jesus identifies so much with His body, that when people persecute or lash out against a member of the body, He is persecuted. That's why we're called the body of Christ, and when we lash out against someone, we're lashing out against Him. “Why do you persecute Me? I am Jesus, who you are persecuting.” Now, even Jesus Christ received complaints, received criticism and gossip from other people. They accused him of being a winebibber because he ate with publicans and sinners because he loved them. They accused Jesus of being in league with Satan when he performed his miracles. And of course when Jesus was on the cross, they accused him of, of, they mocked him and accused him of being and the whole bit. He received it, too.
In verse 6, he says,“The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.”I don't think anyone has been more graphic in describing the sins of the tongue than James. Paul said, "The poison of asp is under their tongues,” but no one really gave it the juicy details that James does. It is set on fire by hell. And of course in verse 6, he's speaking about how gossip spreads. How it starts so small, but it spreads and it's just, you know, just gets everything going. It sort of amazes me how fast rumors spread. You know, the thing about lies is they seem to uh, travel on the wings of an eagle and truth travels on the back of a turtle. Lies and rumors travel so quickly, but truth is so hard so often to travel. People, you know, people love to hear those things. And what really amazes me is how quick people are to believe them without checking up on the source, saying, “Oh, that's a good source. My friend told me.”I think the best thing to tell someone when you are confronted with gossip- when somebody says, “Hey, did you hear about so-and-so?”is to say, “Can I quote you on that please? Would you mind if I told the other person and quoted you on that?”To dispel that. People are so quick to believe it and in verse 6, he's speaking about how quick gossip, like fire, can spread.
I was involved, before I came here, with a church in Southern California, growing fellowship, sprouting fellowship much like this one us. Grew up, was growing up to about 8-900 people. A few people in the fellowship started rumors around about the pastor. Now they had no idea that they end result is that they would be guilty of splitting a church in two, and they did. Brought it before a couple of the men of the church through the leadership instead of confronting him directly and saying, “I heard that this is going on, is it true?” And started spreading fires all the way around. Well, I came in to this sort of in the midst of it and I was asked to, to act as pastor in the interim while all this mess is going on, just to teach and to keep things together. It is said that time heals all wounds. There's one wound it doesn't heal: it's the wound of gossip and the mouth. The church split up today after about seven years. It still has repercussions from those people who couldn't keep their mouths shut. And they will one day answer for splitting that fellowship because of their gossip. And this is what James is writing about. The danger of gossip and how carefully we should think and plan our words before we let em out. We should look before we leap. We should think before we speak.
“The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and set on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.”I think of Adolf Hitler who, in World War II, he and the Nazi regime were responsible for killing six million Jewish people. It is estimated that his book Mein Kompf for every word that he wrote in his book Mein Kompf, each word was responsible for 125 lives who were killed. Now, we might not destroy cities or large groups of people, but how about reputations? How about each other's feelings? And I think this doesn't just speak about gossip in the church but relationships, like husband and wife relationships. The parents and children relationships, brother and sister relationships. How often have feelings been cut because the spouse happens to know just the right words that are really gonna cut? Just the right, juicy words to say that's gonna cut his spouse. Marriages have been destroyed because of that. Gossip. I have seen people speak more tenderly to their dogs than to their husbands and wives. You know they'll just, just chew out their wife, chew out their husband and then that little kitty comes, “Oh, come here little, come, oh yeah (light laughter).” Doesn't make sense. That's why, in James, he says, “There's an inconsistency if one time we're blessing God and another time we're cursing someone else. These things ought not to be so.” We can break hearts.
Now before we go on in verse 6, he says, “The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature.” This word, “course of nature”, could be translated the circle or the wheel of a person's being. The wheel of a person's being. The ancient Jewish people used to believe that life was a circle, it was a cycle, and, uh, that everything was connected and that actually life, much, much like some of the ancient Jews thought a lot like the ancient Hindus and some of the modern Hindus that life travelled in endless cycles. But when James spoke of the cycle of life here, he's speaking of the totality of a person's life that the tongue, the sins of the tongue have that potential to destroy the whole cycle of a person's life. Worse than weapons. You can destroy a person's- if I were to stand up here and say, “Now here's a brother over here,” and I named him and I said, "Uh, this guy did this and this and this and that.” I could destroy his reputation among all of you for good. Now I do have to clear something up. The scripture does say something. It says that in the case of church discipline, if a person will not heed the discipline of the elders, that they are to take it before the church and share that there's a person who's unrepentant who've we confronted and who's not repenting of their sins and we all want you to know about it so that you won't fellowship. Now we have never had to do that, thank God. I'd hate to do that. I'd hate to be in that kind of position to have to do that. And yet the scripture says there are those cases. But what James is talking about is that potential we have to damage reputations for good. The wheel of nature. The total person. He said, "it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the wheel of a man's being,”or, “the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.”Now the word “hell” that he uses is the word Gehenna. Speaking of the Valley of Hinnam in Jerusalem southeast of Jerusalem, even to this day there is a valley called Gehenna. Jesus uses this word ten times to refer to hell. In the Old Testament, the, uh, pagans would sacrifice their babies to the god Molech in this valley, putting them on hot statues and burning them to death. And the Jewish people got so tired of this that by the time of King Josiah, who was a good king, he abolished all of the idolatry and just made it a garbage dump. But it was a constant incinerator, the Valley of Hinnam. There was always a burning in it, You could throw your trash in it. In fact, the Jews in Jesus' time used it as simply a trash dump, a landfill. They would put their garbage there. There was always smoke and always burning. And that's why Jesus, when He spoke of gehenna, or hell, he said, "Where the worm dies not and the fire is not quenched,”speaking of the rot of flesh and the fire that was going out. And he spoke about hell in that light. And this is the word that James used here.
'For every beast,”verse 7, “every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”Now you can go to a circus and you can see how man has tamed every beast imaginable. Even, they have even flea circuses. Trained fleas. You can train elephants and tigers–those who are by nature aggressive and hostile. And yet we can't tame that little thing that flops around behind our teeth - the tongue. You can go to Sea World and see what they do with dolphins. All sorts of, uh, killer whales even. Yet he says, “The tongue can no man tame. It is unruly, or unmanageable. It's full of deadly poison.” in the ancient world, the ancient Roman world, the Romans had temples to the god Asclepius, who is the god of the healing arts. And what they would do, they would take snakes, tamed snakes, they would take poisonous serpents and they would tame them. And they would place them in the temple of Asclepius. Now, if you had a disease and you wanted to get healed of it, the Romans believed that if you could sleep in the temple at night of Asclepius and those smooth, slithery, little snakes would crawl over your body at night, that you would be healed of your disease. I'd rather go to a doctor (light laughter). But that's exactly what they believed because they would tame these poisonous serpents. By the way the sign of the medical profession is that Asclepius, the serpent on the pole. Now the Romans stole it from the Hebrews of the, the, uh, serpent in the wilderness that was on the brass pole. But nonetheless, uh, they would tame these snakes and people believed they'd be healed because of it. All sorts of things people can tame. I remember when I was a kid growing up and I used to mow, uh, good ol' friend named Virginia, she was in her eighties when I was about ten years old. We'd go mow her lawn. And she had a bird named Quito. And Quito was an amazing- he could remember things and you'd come over and he'd go, “(Parrot noise) Hi Skip.” And I'd think, who said that? And he'd ask us, “Do you wanna 7-Up?” And he'd ask us all sorts of questions. Tamed, and he had a whole, great vocabulary. Now, she could tame the bird's tongue, but I remember listening to her sometimes. Man. She spent years taming this stupid bird how to speak and to control it's tongue and she couldn't even control her tongue. She had a horrible vocabulary comprised of four-letter words. It's an unruly evil. It's unmanageable. Try to grab your tongue sometime. Try to grab it and hold on to it while you're, you're volitionally trying to pull your tongue back in your mouth, try to hold and see if you can hold it out. You can't do it. Some of you are trying it right now, I can see (laughter). He says, “No man can tame the tongue.” In other words, no man can control the tongue. That's what it should be better le- better translated. No man can control, or render useful the tongue. You cannot render your tongue useful for God's purposes. God has to do it. Perfect example- Peter. Now I'm gonna be nice to him this time. Peter always put his foot, or his sandal in his mouth. Always spoke out of turn. He couldn't control his tongue. But after God got a hold of his life, after Pentecost, Peter stood up and preached the most fantastic sermon and let thousands of people to Jesus Christ because it was under control by God. It was now a useful tool by God- God had tamed his tongue. Now it got out of line every now and then. But his tongue became more under control, as you read through the book of Acts. How God took control of his life and he became a useful tool for the kingdom.
He says in verse 9, “With it,” with our tongue, “we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, that who have been made in the likeness or the similitude, of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” Now in verse 9-12 he's speaking about the tongue that has the power to delight. There's the power to direct we saw with the bit and the rudder. There's the power to destroy, with the fire and with the, uh, poisonous animal, the snake. But now also the tongue also has the power to delight. He says, “Does a spring,” verse 11, “send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring can yield both salt water and fresh.” The tongue can refresh people. You know, when Paul would go to Rome and, actually several times on his missionary journey he said that, uh, when he would travel to certain places, he'd meet the brethren and was refreshed by them. The fellowship could refresh, the words that they spoke could refresh. When Paul wrote to Titus, or excuse me, to Philemon, he said, "Refresh me in the Lord Jesus Christ by your work, by your permission of letting your slave Onesimus go free.” So the words have that capability to refresh people. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon says this concerning the tongue, “The words of a man's mouth are deep waters. The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.” That's Proverbs 18. Proverbs 10 says, “The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked.” Proverbs 13:14, “The law of the wise is a fountain of life.” Look at the words to describe what a mouth can be. A fountain of life. Doesn't have to be a fire. Doesn't have to be a deadly animal. It can be a fountain life. “To turn one away from the snares of death.” Now, in verse 9, he's speaking about inconsistency. He says, “With it we bless our God and Father, with it we curse men who've been made in the likeness of God.” He's speaking and warning us against inconsistency. One, uh, time we're blessing God and the next moment we're cursing our neighbor. He says it's inconsistent. The word blessed means “to speak well of”. We speak so well of God, we worship God. And yet we're turned around and we'll just fry somebody. We'll be human flame throwers. We'll torch 'em with our words. He says it's inconsistent. He says, “These things ought not to be so.” Going to church, hands lifted up, worshipping God, “God I love you. Lord, you're so wonderful.” We get out of church, we get in the car, one of the kids yell or a wife does something. “What are you doing? Well, you're this and your that. And don't you know I always thought this about you.” Hey, wait a minute. Weren't you just ten minutes in church raising your hands saying, telling God how much you love Him? Isn't that rather inconsistent to speak words of hate and words of love out of the same mouth just a few minutes apart?
There's a story of a family who would often get together, every morning actually, for breakfast. Large table, large family. Food was set out as normal, breakfast was prepared by the wife, put on the table. And the hu-father of the house would bow his head and, “Oh Lord we just thank you for this food. Bless it to the nourishment of our bodies,” same old drab ritualistic prayer, “Amen.” And one morning after he prayed this great prayer of thanking God for it, he began to complain about the food. “Oh, this bacon is just,blegh, horrible. Don't you know how to cook? These eggs are slimy.” Now the little daughter was at the table and heard this and she says, “Daddy, did God hear you when you prayed a little while ago? Was God listening? Could God hear your prayer?” “Well, of course. God can hear anything. God heard my prayer.” “And, daddy, did God just hear you complain about the bacon and and the eggs. Did God, does God hear that too?” And he kind of, you know, got a straight face, he said, "Well, yes.” She said, "Well then daddy, which one did God believe?” (light laughter) You're thanking him or you're getting so bummed out because of the food. Sobered him up real quick. “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and proceed cursing. My brethren,” verse 10, “these things ought not to be so.” You know, heh, be honest with you, I get amazed when I hear a Christian cuss and they don't flinch. I mean, even in church they'll come up and they'll say horrible words that, man I dumped years ago. And they just, like, they'll just go on. I had a guy come up to me one night, oh about a year ago, and just the filthiest mouth. And I said, "You know what? I don't want to talk to you if you're gonna keep saying those crummy things.” “Oh, those were, oh yeah you're right. I guess those are kind of bad, huh?” Kind of bad? I mean, those were real bad (laughter). It wouldn't even flinch him. He just kept on going. Out of the same mouth, these things ought not to be so. What happens there is that the world sees that and they see an inconsistency. You go to work and you say, “I'm a Christian. I carry a Bible. Hey, here's a tract. Hey come to, come to church.” And then, during the work day, they hear your filthy mouth and they think, “Is that really what a Christian's supposed to be like?” And so, that registers this- it is okay to be a Christian and not change. That's what it registers to them. I can live anyway I want to and say anything I want to and call myself a Christian because these guys do it. That's the message that registers. You see, that gives a bad testimony to the world. When David sinned with Bathsheba, Nathan came up to him and, after David repented Nathan said, "Hey, God has forgiven your sins. He's put away your iniquity from you. But because you've done this thing, you've given great cause for the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.” In other words, “David, they're gonna look at your life and say, 'inconsistent.'” And the world is looking for those kind of things, aren't they? And a lot of times, they're looking too hard. I mean, they'll find every kind of flaw that we have. But in the sins of the tongue. We come into work, “Praise the Lord!” and then during the work, “Oh blankety-blank-blank.” You go, “What? That doesn't make sense.” It can't come out of the same. So he says, “These things ought not to be so.” Excuse me. “Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?” Now, I've never gone out to an apple tree and seen oranges on it. I've seen a lot of different crossbreeds of trees, but I've never seen a straight apple bear a straight orange. Or a grape vine go out there and see a big grapefruit hanging on it. Get it, grapefruit? Forget it (laughter). Anyway, that's no spring can yield both saltwater and fresh water.
Here's our problem. There is a battle going on inside of us. The flesh wars against the spirit, the spirit wars against the flesh. If you're a Christian, you've got two natures: the old nature and the new nature. And they only have one mouth between both of 'em. And they both have something to say. And that can be yield, you're mouth can be yielded to the old nature or to the new man. If it's yielded to the new man, it'll be, “Oh, Lord, you're so good.” If it's yielded to the old man, all sorts of filth will come out. From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. If our lives are yielded over to God, that filth won't be there. If our hearts and our lives are yielded over to the flesh, it'll be there. There was an old country preacher who tried to describe the battle of the tongue and the two natures, and he was speaking to his congregation he says, “(Country accent) Well it's like this. It's like we got two dogs living inside of us: one a black dog, one a white dog, and they're both trying to bark out of the same mouth (laughter).” “It gets confusing,” he said. They both want the floor. They wanna speak. The old nature wants to speak, the black dog. The new nature wants to speak, the white dog. But it's inconsistent. And it's especially inconsistent as the world watches us. The whole theme here is consistency. We need to be consistent. And it's something we do have to watch. I had a friend in Orange County who was traveling to church down Fairview Avenue in Santa Ana, which means nothing to you but it's a main thoroughfare. And he was going about sixty miles an hour in about a forty. Pulled over by a policeman. Now, the policeman comes up, very calmly says, “Now, sir, you were speeding, you're going about twenty miles, twenty-five miles over the speed limit.” And the guy should've just said, "Look, give me a ticket.” But he says, “Well, officer, I'm on my way to church.” And the officer said, "If you keep driving like that, next time you go to church, it'll be in a casket.” And the guy came home and he's all upset, “Oh, that guy couldn't speak to me that way,” you know, had to be real smart. Hey, you deserved it. You're going twenty-five miles over the speed limit and you're telling him you're going to church. “Ah, I gotta get there for a Bible study, you know, I'm late.” Inconsistency. Jesus said it is not what goes into a man's mouth that defiles him, but what comes out of his mouth that defiles him. The disciples didn't understand that. They tried to figure out what it meant. And Jesus said, "Don't you guys understand? What goes into a man's mouth goes into his stomach and it's eliminated. But what comes forth from a man's mouth comes out of his heart. For out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, adultery, fornication.” Listed a whole slew of sins. And so he said, "It's what comes out of a mouth that defiles a person.” And this is what James is addressing here.
In closing, let's turn to Colossians Chapter 4, please. “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside,” those who are not Christian, those who are outside the fellowship. “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside redeeming,” or making the most out of your time. “Let your speech always be with grace,” which means pleasant words, winsome words, warmth, be graced, “seasoned with salt.” Now there's a good balance there. Grace seasoned with salt. In other words, we're all called upon to tell the truth to people. And the truth, in some cases, is never to easy to swallow, it's never easy to listen to. It's hard to tell a person very nicely that if he doesn't repent of his sins, he's bound for hell. But you can do it with grace, seasoned with salt. Now Jesus said you are the salt of the earth. But we don't deliberately go around people and try to pour salt in their wounds. You just try to make them feel bad. But our words should be full of grace, that is pleasant words, winsome words, but seasoned with salt. Sharp enough to cut. But not on purpose. It should be pleasant words, full of grace. “That you may know how you ought to answer each one.” So we need, in the world, to have grace in our speech, seasoned with salt. And among the body of Christ, words of grace, seasoned with salt. Words of love, not words of gossip.
Now, a lot of women are accused of gossiping. Isn't that right? And the Lord knows it's true (laughter). It wasn't a joke. It's the truth. But men do it just as much. Some of the women are saying “more” I can, I got that. We need so much, it begins in relationships, I believe, with each other. We can speak beautiful words. I can impress you all that I want to with my words with I teach, or if you come and ask me a question, I can give you all sorts of biblical knowledge. But you wanna know what my tongue's like, ask my wife. Seriously, and I'm not ashamed, go ask my wife. Say, “what are you like at home? What's he like at home?” Now I didn't pay her ten dollars or anything to come up with a speech tonight, so (light laughter). Hah. Wives, I don't speak from years of experience, but don't nag your husbands. Sometimes I've seen so often husbands and wives and they get into this bitter battle and they come and they come in counseling and it's like, “Well, she won't submit to me.” You know, they pull the big submission trip. “She won't submit. Why won't she submit?” Which they usually mean do anything I say. And then the wives say, “Well he doesn't love me like Christ loved the church. If he loved me like Christ loved the church, I'd submit to him.” “Well if you'd submit to me, it'd be easy to love you like Christ loved the church (laughter) but you don't submit.” It an endless cycle. The tongue needs to be tempered and controlled in a marital relationship. It begins there. It begins at the home. Don't nag your husbands. Tell them once. And then get a gun (laughter). No, seriously, hah, (laughter continued), tell them once and then leave it alone. “Take out the garbage, I asked you to take out the garbage.” If you keep telling him to take out the garbage, you're gonna get someone who will do it, but not because he wants to. Simply because he's nagged into doing it. And you'll have a bigger, you'll have a worse situation on your hands. Tell him once and leave it. And be like Christ and take it out yourself. And men, don't always nag your wives about certain things. You want them to do this you want them to look that way. Don't keep pressuring them into this. Make known your desires to them but then love them like Christ would love the church. And certainly He wouldn't say, “Well, if you don't look nice today I'm not, sorry, say a few things to you (light laughter).” What if Jesus loved us like some of us husbands love our wives? What if God loved us- boy, we'd be in sorry, sad shape wouldn't we? We'd feel so totally insecure in God's love, it'd be pathetic. We need to feel secure with each other. And that's why words can be those things full of grace. Tell your wives you love 'em. Tell your husbands that you love them. That you'll never leave them. That nothing is going to separate you, no matter what. Tell them that. “Well they already know that.” Yeah, but they wanna hear it from ya. They need to hear it from you.
Twelve words that can change your whole life- please and thank you. That can change- and you know, they sound so simple and so normal. But say them. “Please, can I do this?” “Thank you for that.” Say I'm sorry. Now that's a tough one. A lot of us, especially men, have a tough time to say, “I'm sorry. I was wrong.” But say I'm sorry. You'll see so many walls will break down. Please, thank you, I'm sorry. How about this? “I love you.” Even if they already know it, tell them. Brothers, tell your brothers, “I love you.” Sisters to sisters, “I love you.” How about this one? "I'm praying for you.” Those are gracious words. All of those together are twelve words. Believe me, I counted them. “Please, thank you, I'm sorry, I love you, I'm praying for you.” Remember, only you can prevent forest fires. It can start with a spark and it can destroy people. Tragic to go around even to the fellowship and to make yourself look better by putting the other party down. That's what James is speaking about. Let your words be full of grace, seasoned with salt.