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James 3:1-12

Are We Edifying?

  • Shawn Dean
  • Weekend Messages
  • November 25, 2018

The book of James deals with maturity and practical Christian living by faith. Chapter 3 is about maturing our tongues. Have a heart for wisdom. Train your tongue to encourage, edify, challenge in love, debate in love. God wants us to always desire the truth to win over darkness.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Are We Edifying

James 3:1-12

The book of James deals with maturity and practical Christian living by faith.

James chapter 1 is about being patient in times of trouble or tribulation…

Chapter 2 is about practicing truth; when folks come into your midst with needs you pray for them or help meet those needs.

How many words a day do we speak?

•What’s included in those WORDS –

•Anger / Trust / Carelessness / Hurt / Love

•Our tongues get us in trouble – have you ever been there?

•The whole book of Corinthians was written to an immature church, who had divisions, and part of their problem was their mouths.

•We should all take note in scripture of the importance of controlling our tongues.

•Are we Edifying others?

What about the fitness of our tongues?

•Have you ever stung someone?

•The bible says we all wrestle with our tongues.

You can light up the room or take the air out of it in an instant!

•Adolf Hitler’s tongue was used by Satan…Billy Graham’s tongue was used by God. – Powerful

•You can be edifying or critical or worse.

First year seminary student story

•You’ve heard of the phrase, Loose lips sink ships? – a WW II phrase to remind servicemen & others to avoid careless talk.

•* Marriages* Relationships* Friendships

•Our witness defines or redefines us

Chapter 3 of James is about maturing our Tongues

I.The High Bar of Judgement

Many of you are already teaching – Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, Adult Leaders…We will receive stricter judgement.

James 3:1; Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.

•We all wrestle with our tongues – we should all be sharing and teaching at some level.

•As Christians we have the benefit of the ability to control our tongues.

•With the power of the Holy Spirit edify someone, speak love, choose your words carefully.

Colossians 4:5-6; Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (NAS)

•Paul is telling us to walk in wisdom – our speech reflects our life – have a healthy fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 28:14; How blessed is the man who fears always, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

•People watch our lives – they are drawn to our words of hope or despair.


•When people listen to us what will they hear?

•Do not our words tell others what we thirst for?

•What are our words seasoned with; forgiveness, God’s goodness towards others, hope, salvation?

OR do we make people thirsty for off-color jokes, criticism, slurs, contentious political commentary, social media jabs?

A.Not one is perfect

This is a hard area for us; our mouths…

•“We All” stumble – no sinless perfect christians this side of heaven.

Charles Spurgeon – the most famous preacher of his time – died in 1892 – known for offending many with the Gospel.


  • When he taught on Acts 26:28 he once said, “a man that is almost saved is damned.”


He told of a story about a man who said he wassinless ever since becoming a Christian…


  • Do you doubt the power of our tongues?



•How about a huge ship’s rudder? Or the largest of horses with a small bridle?

•That strong force our tongue goes against is the old self, the old nature.

Illustration – Have you ever done some carpentry or home projects involving hammers and nails?

•What about when someone shares gossip with you – do you take a strong stand against it.

•My life’s potential depends on whether I say Yes to Righteousness and No to Sin…

•My tongue will steer me; what about yours?

B. Only God controls our mouth’s raging fire

One of our greatest friends throughout history has been fire.When under control – Great.When out of control – Devastating.

Have you ever looked at some passages about the fire of our words or in our hearts?

vs 6 – “the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

Proverbs 26:20; For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.

Proverbs 17:27; He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

Proverbs 14:29; He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.

II.One Mouth – Choose To Bless

•One hasty remark can break years of reputation.

•Are we edifying; do we exercise our gifts of encouragement.

Proverbs 25:11; Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.

Hebrews 10:24; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

(vs 7-8) – no human being can tame a tongue – “restless evil” – like a deadly snake

•Benefit of being a Christian is your power to do this!

(vs 9) – The tongue can be tamed 

A.Let wisdom win

•Have a heart for wisdom – train your tongue to encourage, edify, challenge in love, debate in love – always desiring truth to win over darkness.

•Parents – how can we miss this – is the power of our tongues used to train up a child or tear down a child?

•Husbands/Wives – Bosses – Employees – what about you?

Proverbs 18:4; The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; The fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

Proverbs 10:10; He who winks the eye causes trouble, And a babbling fool will be ruined.

Proverbs 13:14; The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, To turn aside from the snares of death.

B.Be filled with fresh water, not salty

•James warns us about inconsistency of those who don’t care about their lips.

•Perhaps we have to adjust our environment; cursing without conviction, off-color jokes…

  • We can crucify those habits with the power of the Holy Spirit.

vs 10; from the same mouth come blessing and cursing.

Did your parents ever wash your mouth out with soap?I’ll never forget it.Happened more than once actually.

•Take inventory or your life in this area of blessing or cursing

Philippians 4:8; Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Are you wrestling with these things? Are you meditating on these things?

•Doesn’t inconsistency dishonor God?Doesn’t it lead to sin?

As we begin to wrap this lesson on our conduct, remember this – –

•The old nature will continue to fight and our new nature wants to honor God.

•We have 1 mouth and 1 tongue – Are you yielding to the Spirit, not the flesh.

•Pray God will help you cleanse your heart & tame your tongue.

•Words can be soothing & filled with healing – they can also be biting and hurtful,filled with sarcasm.

C.Apply the life giving Word to your life

Here’s some tools I think James or Paul would give today about our conduct in controlling our tongues

The guideline is the word THINK

T – is it True? 

Ephesians 4:25; Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

H – is it Helpful? 

Psalms 124:8; Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

I – is it Inspiring? 

Proverbs 25:25; Like cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a distant land.

N – is it Necessary? 

Ephesians 4:29; Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

K – is it Kind? 

Ephesians 4:32; Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

•And 12 gracious words that can change your life –

“Please, thank you, I’m sorry, I love you, I’m praying for you” (12)

You can prevent verbal forest fires.

That’s what James is speaking about; Let your words be full of grace, seasoned with salt.

James 3:1-12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The Tongue Is a Fire
3 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a [a]stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in [b]what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. 3 Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4 Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.
See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our [c]life, and is set on fire by [d]hell. 7 For every [e]species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human [f]race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both [g]fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce [h]fresh.


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