Speaking & Boasting

James: Faith & Works  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:14
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Again, let me reiterate how important it is for you to be reading the book of James along with us as I am teaching this series. If you have already read it through, all five chapters, read it again. It will only help you to understand what I am saying to you each week.
This week is a biggie. We are going to briefly look at 2 chapters. There is so much to unpack here. I could do multiple weeks on these two chapters alone but for the most part these two chapters talk about two things. Those two things are speaking and boasting.
For the next few minutes I want to give you 10 things to think about from James 3 and 4. I will touch on these topics very briefly, but I believe that each of these will speak volumes to you today.
First, I want each of you to understand this. I said it in the beginning. James loved his congregation. You need to realize that as you read the book of James you are hearing each word that he says as if he is your pastor speaking to you. James had a pastor’s heart. He is saying all that he is saying in love. The book of James has so many nuggets of wisdom for you to put into practice in your life. So let’s begin.
If I was to sum up James 3 and 4 in one sentence it would be this:

The Words We Speak Are Powerful.

As you read the book of James I think you would agree with me that about one third of the book is about the words we speak, how we speak and why we speak.

American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent and evil they become in the hands of someone who knows how to combine them.”

We use to say stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. But the truth is words do hurt. There is life and death in the tongue and we are going to take a closer look at that today.
Turn in your bibles to James chapter 3. I am going to cover several verse from chapter 3 and 4. Look at James 3:1
James 3:1 NIV
1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

1. Teachers will be Judged more Strictly.

What I am going to teach you today is so important. I have to teach you this. If I don’t then I will have to stand before God some day and answer to Him for why I did not tell you guys the truth.
It is a great responsibility to teach the Bible. The teacher must be prepared to obey what he sees in the word. The teacher can never hope to lead others beyond what he himself has practiced. the extent of his influence on others will be determined by how much he himself has progressed.
Because I am a teacher of the Bible I am automatically held to a higher standard.
What I am telling you is not to discourage you from teaching God’s Word? If your calling is to teach then teach. If it is not to teach then don’t.
James continues..
James 3:2–6 NIV
2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

2. The Tongue is Hard to Control.

You don’t have to answer this but how many of you sometimes have a hard time controlling the tongue. If we aren’t careful, we will let the tongue control us and not the other way around.
Have you ever thought about the examples that James gives us in correlation to the tongue?
He uses a horse as an example. He uses a ship steered by a very small rudder.
And then he uses a small spark catching a forest on fire.
There have been more forest fires started by cigarettes being tossed out a car window than we can count. And James tells us that that is what our tongue is like.
Look at the words he uses in verse 6.
Is a fire
A world of evil
among the parts of the body.
corrupts the whole body - This one person has the ability to corrupt the entire church body just by the words they speak.
whole course of one’s life on fire - this statement is translated as the circle of life. This shows us the tongue’s ability to spread evil beyond just the individual and literally to everything in its sphere of influence.
is itself set on fire by hell. - the tongue has the unique potential to “Unleash hell” on others.
That’s a big list. James is showing us the power of the tongue. You need the power of the Holy Spirit to help you to control your tongue.

3. With the Tongue we Praise and We Curse

James isn’t finished yet. Verse 7 he talks about taming animals and then in verse 8 he says...
James 3:8–9 NIV
8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.
Matthew 12:34 NIV
34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
If words come out of your mouth, they had to start somewhere. Those words began in your heart.
Here’s something to think about.
Genesis 1:26–27 NIV
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
We are made in the image of God. Everyone of us are. It doesn’t matter if you are white, black, brown, pink or purple. You are made in the image of God. So, if you use your tongue to curse another person, it is like you are cursing God.
I don’t understand how a person can come to church, raise their hands, and then go out and talk bad about their neighbor. If you are cursing your neighbor, then you are cursing God.
Then James talks about another way that we use our tongue. Look at verse 14
James 3:14–16 NIV
14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

4. Are you a Self-Promoter?

“Selfish Ambition” refers to the ungodly habit of promoting one’s own interests above the purposes of God and the good of others.
When you are only living for yourself, you are not thinking like Jesus. This kind of life leads to disorder.
Philippians 2:3–5 NIV
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
You will go a lot farther in life if you will promote the life of Jesus and less promoting of yourself.

5. We All Need Heavenly Wisdom.

James 3:17 NIV
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Heavenly wisdom is the opposite of earthly wisdom. Heavenly wisdom is the true wisdom from God and then James describes it.
Pure - with right motives and without moral corruption.
Peace-loving - not contentious or divisive
Considerate - putting others’ concerns before self.
Submissive - giving way to what is most beneficial for others
Full of Mercy and Good Fruit - Think about the fruit of the spirit. This kind of wisdom is also compassionate, forgiving, and character building.
Impartial - consistent and fair
Sincere - This kind of wisdom is genuine and without hypocrisy.
God will never steer you in the wrong direction.
The next highlight that James gives us is...

6. You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

James 4:1–3 NIV
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Listen real closely to what I am going to say here. Most conflicts and disputes in the church center on one or more individuals asserting their desire to have what they want and to do things their own way.
But in the words of the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want.
When you desire your needs and wants above what God wants that is sinful and you need to repent.
James also brings up prayer here. There are two types of prayer that James brings up. Prayers that you never pray and Prayers that you never receive answers to.
The first one is easy to explain. God will never answer prayers that you never pray. James tells us in chapter 4 verse 2, “you do not have because you do not ask God.”
What are needing God to do in your life? Go to Him in prayer and ask Him to do in. And we will talk more about prayer next week.
The second prayer that James is talking about is prayers that you never receive answers to.
God refuses to answer the prayers of those who are selfishly ambitious. He will refuse to answer prayers to those that love pleasure. And those that desire honor, power and riches. God’s Word says that He responds to the prayer of the righteous.
Psalm 66:18–19 NIV
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; 19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.
God responds to those who call on Him in truth.
Psalm 145:18 NIV
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
God responds to those who turn to Him in genuine repentance and humility.
Luke 18:14 NIV
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
And God responds to those who ask according to His will.
1 John 5:14 NIV
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
Sometimes we may not receive what God would like to give us because even though we ask for the right things, we ask for the wrong reasons.
That brings us to my seventh point today.

7. Do you Love the World more than You Love God?

James 4:4 NIV
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
You can think about it this way. “Friendship with the world” is spiritual adultery. When you love the world more than you love God, you are showing an unfaithfulness to God.
Isaiah 54:5 NIV
5 For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.
1 John 2:15–17 NIV
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
What does the love of the world mean? When you embrace the world’s attitudes, its values, its practices, ungodly pleasures and all the corrupt ways of the world, this is showing that you love the world more than you love God.
I am concerned for people that listen to what people in the world say and they blindly follow. And I am talking about any way. Just because someone claims to be of God does not mean they are.
You need to take what that person says and look it up for yourself. Don’t just believe what you are told. Go look and see what the scripture really says.
When we love God more than the world we desire what God is trying to teach us. The best thing you can do is what number 8 is.

8. Submit to God and Resist the Devil.

James 4:7 NIV
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
People tend to focus too much on the second part of this verse. But you can’t have one without the other. If you put yourself first, you are giving in to selfishness. But when we submit to God we are saying that we want what God wants. We want His desires for us. We want His will for us. And when we submit to God that resisting the devil stuff will come easier.
I have two more thoughts for you today.

9. Don’t Point

Have you ever heard the saying, “when you point your finger at someone else you have three more pointing right back at you?”
James says something like that in verses 11 and 12 of chapter 4.
James 4:11–12 NIV
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
You have no right talking about another individual until you have walked a mile in their shoes. When you see someone struggling, don’t criticize, find out what you can do to help them. When you see someone battling an addiction, don’t step back and point your finger and cast judgment. Find out what you can do to help them break the addition. When you see someone falling away from God don’t stand there and look at them in judgment. Go to them and minister to them.
Romans 13:10 NIV
10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Matthew 7:1 NIV
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
Only God has the right to judge people.
And then James concludes these two chapters by telling us what we need to do.

10. You Know What You Need to Do.

James 4:17 NIV
17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
The first question you have to ask in order to understand this is what is sin? Sin is a matter of going our own way. It is when we decide to defy God and we end up short of His standard. Every single one of us is born with a tendency to sin.
Romans 6:23 NIV
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God paid the full penalty for our sin by sacrificing His own perfect life so that we might receive forgiveness and begin walking in a personal relationship with God through faith in Christ.
Now that we have received Jesus as our Savior we rely on this relationship to help us overcome our tendency to sin. This is more than just resisting the devil. It is about pursuing Jesus and pursuing the things of God.
And sin is not simply a matter of bad things we knowingly do; it is also a matter of good things we knowingly don’t do.
So, James has given us quite a bit to think about in these last two chapters.
Death and life truly is in the power of the tongue. With our mouths we praise God the Father in one setting and curse our neighbor in another. I believe that if James was here today he would say, “church, we can do better.”
So, here is my challenge to you this week. I want you to be intentional with your words. Let your words be life giving and uplifting to others. Let your words be encouraging and filled with humility.
And in the words of christian artist, Toby Mac, speak life.
Let your words come to life this week, and set them free to give life to others.
Let’s pray.
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