Lesson 5 - Growing Closer to God Through Watching Your Mouth

What are the strongest muscles in your body? Science says the heart is, followed by the Masseter (jaw), then the Soleus (calf), and the Gluteus Maximus (behind end). Each of these muscles contain great strength for a specific purpose. Like, did you know, the Masseter muscle allows one to bite down with between 117 - 265 pounds of force!? And that the heart beats 2.5 billion times in an average 70 year lifespan? Muscle can not only exert great strength, they can produce explosive quickness. The average human start from a complete stop, and be at max speed with 5-7 steps. Our muscles are designed to serve and protect us. They serve us by allowing us to work and play. They protect us by allowing us the exercise our "fight or flight" response to danger. Athletes chose to exercise their muscles to keep them in top shape. They also practice proper nutrition so they will grow and develop. Caring for our muscles will ensure they are ready to serve us when they are needed. If you have ever had a muscle cramp you know how strong they are. Your muscle contracts into a knot and you can't move. If you touch the muscle it seems as hard as a rock. Or maybe you have have an involuntary muscle spasm. Your muscle keeps contracting and relaxing over and over. These are signs you aren't caring for the muscles properly. Potassium has been show to provide relief when your muscles are overworked and tight. Also massaging muscles can relax and calm them.

There is another muscle that doesn't get much thought. There aren't any programs to exercise it. You hardly ever see anyone showing it off. Although it is smaller than the muscles we have mentioned, it can have a tremendous impact on our lives. It is our tongue. It may not cramp or spasm on its own, but sometimes we allow it to unleash incredible pain. Our tongues can get us into a lot of trouble and it can be the hardest muscle to control. In this lesson we will discuss what the Bible says about our tongue in James. We will learn how being able to control our tongue will allow us to grow closer the God.

Growing Closer to God Through Watching Your Mouth
James is open and honest about the way we use our months. His warnings provide not only a guide to the spiritual rewards of watching what we say, but to enjoy a better earthly life by doing so.

James 3:1-12
1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.

The warning here is simple, you shouldn't teach without first weighing whether, or not, you can control your mouth. A person who teaches and then "stumbles" over the words he has taught will bring strict judgement on himself. We usually call these people by the simple term, hypocrite. It is also an incredible responsibility of a teacher to ensure your words represent THE Word. Those who teach may lead people astray so care should be taken before you decide to do teach. The warning is clear, you will judged more strictly because of this responsibility.

I am not sure the warning here is "don't teach," but instead "get you mouth under control before you teach." Either way the scriptures tell us that if a man can not stumble in word, he is perfect, and can control his whole body. Did you hear that! If you can control your mouth, you can control your body!

James 3:1-12
3 Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 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. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 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. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

Even though the tongue is so small, it makes a remarkable impact on our lives. This passage, however, starts by outlining the good it can do. The parallels that speak of the bit, and the rudder outline how small things can steer us into a positive direction. Without these things the horse and ship would wander aimlessly. The idea here is that we should use of mouths for good. The first passage is not saying "just don't say anything," it is leading us to "actively say the right things." The second part of the passage then warns that our tongue can cause us trouble. The funny thing about fire is how it can so quickly get out of control. The same is so true for our tongues. Words can spread from our mouths to the very heart and soul of others like an inferno. It is impossible to take hurtful words back and the damage can last forever. We are reminded that it is easier to tame wild animals than our own mouths.

Using our mouths is one of the easiest way to externally sin

James 3:1-12
9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

These last 4 verses are very interesting. They speak directly to the idea of being a hypocrite, we discussed earlier, but in an even more direct way. It is not Christlike for filth and blessing to come from the same mouth. Using your mouth for both sets you at odds not only with God and those around you, but yourself. It will tear at your very core and confuse you. Is it had to stop? Yes! The verses we have read speak to this. However it can be done. Here are a few tips to help when you feel like you are losing control of your mouth:

1.  Walk away - Easier said than done. But when you feel your tempter rising remove yourself from the situation.
2.  Don't think in terms of "I" and "you" when in a stressful situation. Think in terms of "we" and "us."
3.  If you encounter a jerk, just learn a lesson. You usually can't tell a jerk anything so why try. If you engage with them they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.
4.  Make sure the other person is talking as much as you are. If they haven't said 3 sentences in the last 3 minutes you are talking too much.
5.  If you have to ask yourself whether or not you should say something, don't.
6.  Some folks are blessed with the "gift of gab." Just because someone can "out talk you" does not mean they are telling the truth.

So what about cussing?
This question allows comes up when this passage is studied. First, lets understand that the list of cuss words we are thinking of right now (and you know you are) weren't in existence when James was writing his book. What society considers "bad words" change with history and culture. However there are definitely words that society has set aside as not proper and moral speech so as Christian we cannot ignore this. Use of these profane words, even through they are just defined as this by man, violates the concepts we find in scripture. Let's end by looking at these:

Cursing Verses

Our "big" muscles provide us with explosive strength and quickness. The tongue does the same, but on an even more important scale. It can get you into serious trouble explosively quick. It can be one of your biggest strengths, or one of your biggest weaknesses. It is difficult to exercise control over your tongue, but this control is required by God. Like training other muscles our tongue takes time, effort, and a plan to bring into submission. It is worth the effort and you will be served well by a gracious tongue, so.... watch your mouth.

There are the verses on the Power Point in case it is not possible to use it.
Colossians 3:8 ESV
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

Ephesians 4:29 ESV
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Matthew 12:36-37 ESV
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Matthew 15:10-11 ESV
And he called the people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person."

James 3:10 ESV
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

Ephesians 5:4 ESV
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

James 1:26 ESV
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.

Proverbs 21:23 ESV
Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

2 Timothy 2:16 ESV
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,

Psalm 19:14 ESV
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 141:3 ESV
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Luke 6:45 ESV
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Matthew 5:37 ESV
Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil.

Colossians 4:6 ESV
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Psalm 10:7 ESV
His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.

1 Timothy 4:12 ESV
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

Exodus 20:7 ESV
"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Proverbs 8:13 ESV
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.

Psalm 109:17 ESV
He loved to curse; let curses come upon him! He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!

Ecclesiastes 5:6 ESV
Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?

Hosea 4:2 ESV
There is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait. ...

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Philippians 4:8 ESV
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.