2018-02-07 / Religion

Live life with a disciplined faith

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

James 3

The declaration, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is not accurate. Many people have found out “the hard way” that words carry much weight, and can do great damage. King Solomon, the son of David, wrote, “Death and life are in the power (strength) of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit (reward) thereof.” Proverbs 18:21.

Jesus of Nazareth addressed the words that one speaks. The source of our words indicates the “inner health” of the thoughts and intents of our life. In scripture, the “heart” is seen as the “fountain of life” and the “total essence” of the individual. Our Lord declared, “for out of the abundance (surplus) of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Matthew 12:34b. On another occasion the Master said, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart; and they defile (render unholy, unclean) the man (human). For out of the heart proceed (issues) evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies…” Matthew 15:18, 19.

As the Apostle James, “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19), wrote the letter that bears his name, he gave these early believers an instruction that reaches to our day — “My brethren, be (become) not many masters (teachers), knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation (judgment).” James 3:1. Teachers have the responsibility of presenting “all the counsel (what is revealed) of God.” Acts 20:27b. “Partial truth” springs from — and leads one farther into--error. This condition can result in eternal damnation.

James addresses directly the words that are spoken. The Greek word that is translated by our English word “word,” is “logos.” This Greek word means “expression of thought.” The verbal — or written — vehicles of thought need to be guarded. The Psalmist, David, prayed, “Let the (1) words of my mouth, and the (2) meditation of my heart, be acceptable (well-pleasing) in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14. In another psalm, he prayed, “Set a watch (guard), O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3.

As James continued his admonition and instruction, he declared, “For in many things we offend (to cause to stumble) all. If any man (one) offend not in word, the same is a perfect (mature; complete) man, and able also to bridle (hold in check) the whole body.” James 3:2. He continued with his illustration — “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.” James 3:3. The apostle used another example that was familiar to his readers — “Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth (wishes).” James 3:4.

As important as his illustrations are, the lesson to be learned has a very personal application — “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth.” James 3:5. This illustration carries a message for all mankind — especially believers. “And the tongue is a fire, a world (order; system) of iniquity (unrighteousness): so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth (makes a stain or spot on) the whole body, and setteth on fire the course (activity) of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” James 3:6.

The brother of our Lord turned the thoughts of the reader to the things of the wild. “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and things in the sea, is tamed (subdued), and hath been tamed of (by) mankind: But the tongue can no man (human) tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:7, 8.

Personal assessment of our speech patterns can cause one to become his or her personal judge. “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude (likeness) of God.” James 3:9. James gives his personal view of those who practice this language pattern — “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought so to be.” James 3:10.

In the Ten Commandments, God — Jehovah — addressed this situation — (1) “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Exodus 20:7), and (2) Thou shalt not bear false witness…” Exodus 20:16.

James, further, addressed personal actions with other illustrations. “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” James 3:11, 12.

As we examine our personal speech content and patterns, what do we find? When looking at the Biblical standard, loose and flippant speech have no place in the life of one who has accepted Jesus Christ of Nazareth as the Lord of his or her life. Our voice and any kind of outward expression needs to be measured by the divine standard of the revealed Word of God. Our Lord was not reducing us to a two-word vocabulary in the Sermon on the Mount. He was underscoring the teaching of the Psalmist — “But let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Matthew 5:37.

Since life is made up of choices, we determine our own ways of expressing thoughts. However, the divine standard is clearly stated. As we submit every area of our life to our Lord, we can know that he is with us, and will carry us through the rough places of life. In all situations, Jesus Christ has promised peace — “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27. Please accept this provision, today. John 3:16.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ james@ yahoo. c om

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