Blessing and Cursing (James 3:7-12)

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“Blessing and Cursing”

(James 3:7-12)

Series: Living the Faith [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

February 25, 2018

Introductory Comments:

Remember, James has been talking about the tongue, and it’s dangers. He’s serious about it.

This morning he continues that discussion.

Let’s see what he says. Look at the passage with me.

Read the Passage

Read James 3:7-12

7 Every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish is tamed and has been tamed by humankind, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. 10 Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. 11 Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.

Let’s pray together.

(Prayer)

This is kind of part B from last week.

Today, we’re going to see three more characteristics of the tongue.

First, we learn that . . .

I. The tongue is wild.  (vv. 7-8)  [on screen]

Look again at verses 7-8.

James transitions from comparing the tongue to a raging fire, to comparing it to wild animals.

James says that we can tame all kinds of animals, but the tongue cannot be tamed.

By the way, James did not mean this statement as a zoological statement. He was not a gamekeeper.  So, don’t go try to tame every kind of wild animal!  James’ point is that many different types of wild animals can be tamed: lions, whales, snakes, bears . . . but not the tongue.

The tongue cannot be tamed!

James says that the tongue is a restless evil.

It never stops producing evil!  That’s crazy!

Further, he says that it is full of deadly poison.

James is clearly trying to reinforce the idea that the tongue is dangerous.

(pause)

When I think of an animal that is full of deadly poison, I think of a snake.

I believe that there is great significance in the fact that the first tongue to be used for sinful purposes was the tongue of the serpent in the garden, with Adam and Eve. You can read about it later in Genesis 3.

Satan, took the form of a snake and uttered sinful lies and deceived Adam and Eve into sinning against God.

The tongue is full of deadly poison!  That poison was first spewed by the vilest snake of all, and his tongue brought deception, which brought death into our world.

The tongue is indeed deadly poisonous.

Again, notice how harsh James is being against the tongue. He’s serious.

(pause)

So, what should we do?  James says that we can’t tame the tongue, so why even try?

Well, that’s not the attitude that we should take!

Remember, last week we spoke of a raging fire. Often, the firefighters cannot eliminate the fire, but they can control it.

In the same manner, we cannot completely tame the tongue, but we can control it.

Furthermore, we cannot tame the tongue, but God can!  We should ask the Holy Spirit to help us!  Help us, God, to control what we say!

(pause)

We must have a wanting to control our tongues, and a reliance upon God to help us do so.

We must be diligent!  We must be intentional!  We must be aware of the dangers when we let our guard down!

Let’s do the best we can, with God’s help. Let’s reduce the damage that we cause with our tongues because the tongue is wild.

(pause)

Next, James points out that . . .

II. The tongue blesses and curses. (vv. 9-10) [on screen]

Let’s read verses 9 and 10 again.

9 With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. 10 Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way.

James points out this glaring inconsistency in the way we speak.

On the one hand, we bless and praise God, the Creator of all things; and on the other hand, we curse mankind, those made in the image of our Creator God.

You’ve heard the question before, “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”

The same mouth we kiss our mamas with we also say vile things!

We are inconsistent.

Now, James is saying that we are inconsistent when we both praise God and curse mankind.

In order to understand the problem with this, we must understand both God and mankind.

Genesis 1:27 tells us, “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.”

Mankind is distinct in all the universe. Made after the likeness of God!  We have special significance to God.

That’s why a human being in the womb matters!

That’s why a person with severe disabilities matters!

That’s why we care about starvation around the world!

That’s why we care for every human being, regardless of gender, race, religion, economic standing, and age.  Every human being is significant to God and is made in His image. Period!

In effect, James is asking, “How could you dare speak evil towards someone made in the image of God?”  Someone who reflects who God is! How could you do that?

Illustration: It’s like saying you love NASCAR but you hate race cars.  Or, saying you love math, but you can’t stand numbers.  Or, you want to be married, but you don’t like commitment. Or, that you love to pastor, but you don’t like people.  It makes no sense!

It’s inconsistent to praise the Creator and then to curse His prized creation!

In the last part of verse 10, James says, “these things should not be this way.”

For whom?  Well, in the first part he says, “My brothers and sisters . . .”  He’s saying for the Christian, for the follower of Jesus, things should not be this way.

We should not profess to love God and speak evil about His prized creation.

Notice what Jesus says regarding the way that we speak about others, in Matthew 5:21-22.

21 “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. 22 But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire. [on screen]

Jesus is stronger than James on this issue. He’s saying that if you call someone a fool, you are subject to the punishment of Hell!

Why would He say this?

Jesus is also pointing out that this is not the way someone acts who is following the way of God.

(pause)

If we love God and bless His name, we should also love those made in His image and speak blessing to them.

Love God, love the Church, love others. That’s what we’re trying to do here at First Baptist Church.

One of the ways that we can do that is in the way that we speak.

James says this inconsistency should not be. If we are followers of God, we will not speak evil towards those made in His image.

(pause)

Again, this is another indication that those who profess to have faith in God, should live as if they have faith in God.

(pause)

Did you notice here that James does not give allowance on this issue?

James doesn’t say, “If they’re mean to you then you can be mean to them.”

Remember, these are early Christians. They are facing persecution. They are enduring trials. They are being spoken ill against.  Yet, James says not to curse others. Don’t mistreat them with the way that you speak.

Let us not forget that James mentioned in chapter 2, verse 8, that the royal law is to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus also said that is the second greatest commandment. So, this idea of not dishonoring a fellow human being should not be new to us.

If you have respect and honor for God, you should have respect and honor for those made in His image. Period.

With the tongue we bless and curse. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way.

Finally, . . .

III. The tongue speaks for us. (vv. 11-12) [on screen]

You might say, “Well, of course, the tongue speaks for us!”

Well, yes it does, but I mean that it speaks for us in the sense that it tells what is really going on in our hearts.

Look again at verses 11 and 12.

11 Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.

James is saying that which is in our hearts produces what comes out of us.  If we claim to have godliness inside of us, we should produce godliness.

Surely, we all recognize that this is in line with what James has been saying all along, throughout his entire letter.

We know that we are to live our faith.

James reminds us of this again in this passage by pointing to elements in nature: a spring, a fig tree, a grapevine, and again a spring.

James is saying that it doesn’t make any sense for a spring to produce two different types of water, or for a plant to produce a fruit which comes from a different plant. It’s just unnatural.

If evil stuff is coming out of us, that’s a problem!  That indicates that we have a contaminated well from which the water of our soul is coming!

What we say says something about us.

(pause)

Remember, it is what we say that is part of the process of our becoming Christians.

Look at Romans 10:9-10

9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. [on screen]

So, interestingly, what we say is part of the process of us becoming followers of Jesus.

Similarly, it’s also what we say that indicates whether or not we are truly followers of Jesus.

Are you truly a Christian?  Demonstrate it by the way that you speak.

The tongue speaks for us.

Concluding Thoughts:

Let us remember now all the things that James has said about the tongue thus far in his letter:

In chapter 1 he reminds us that our religion is useless if we do not control our tongues.

In chapter 3 he has told us,

We must be careful what we say as teachers.

We are all prone to stumble with our tongues.

If we can control our tongues, we are mature.

Our tongue, although very small can control us.

Our tongue can set things on fire.

The tongue is a world of unrighteousness.

Our tongue can be set on fire by Hell.

The tongue cannot be tamed.

The tongue is a restless evil.

The tongue is full of deadly poison.

Blessing and cursing come out of the same tongue.

(pause)

Do we think that we need to be careful?  You betcha!

We need to be aware of our tongues if we’re going to live for Jesus.

Check out the bottom line for this sermon:

Bottom Line: Control your tongue or it will control you[on screen]

(repeat)

Don’t let it run wild. Ask God to help you.

Do these two things:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. List ways that your tongue may have controlled you[on screen]

Go ahead and identify these ways so you can be aware and ready for the next time you’re tempted.

  1. List ways that you will control your tongue[on screen]

Be proactive. Take action. Plan now to control your tongue.

Perhaps our focus should not only be on what we will not say, but on what we will say.  How will you control your tongue to be used for the glory of God?

The Holy Spirit can give you the self-control, patience, love, and grace necessary to control your tongue and to speak life and love.

Don’t say that you can’t help it!  You couldn’t help it when you were a slave to sin, but you are no longer a slave to sin!  You have been set free!

Seek God’s help and control your tongue!

(pause)

Closing:

By the way, our greatest problem is not a tongue problem, but a heart problem.

It’s the source that’s the problem.

If your heart hasn’t been changed by Jesus you can have it changed today!

Read Romans 10:9-10 again.

9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Closing Song: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Benediction:

Tonight we will be in our last chapter of I Will by Thom Rainer, “I will make a difference.”  Be here tonight at 5:30!

If you need to talk to me about baptism or anything else, please come find me.

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

God bless you, church, see you later!

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